Expertise at Edinburgh

The University of Edinburgh applies cross-disciplinary expertise to create a more sustainable world for future generations. Our academic teams work collaboratively across disciplines: from biology to social sciences to medicine and informatics. Our research ranges from fundamental cell and evolutionary biology through to biomedical and industrial applications. Below are our key areas of strength.

Synthetic and Systems Biology

Synthetics and Systems Biology are core to our ability to design and build new organisms with predictability. Edinburgh is proud to host two research centres: The Centre for Synthetic and Systems Biology (SynthSys), a virtual centre encompassing 200 researchers across the University, and the UK Centre for Mammalian Synthetic Biology, the only research centre globally to focus on mammalian synthetic biology.

Industrial Biotechnology

We have a wide range of research around using novel feedstocks, re-using industrial by-products, generating value from waste streams, recycling of rare metals, harnessing the properties of novel microbes (e.g. extremophiles), and bioremediation of contaminated sites using microbes.

Big ‘Bio’ Data

Modern biotechnologies generate vast volumes of data, the analysis and interpretation of which is vital to the development of the field. Edinburgh is a world-leading centre for data-driven innovation, which supports our drive to accelerate biotechnology research.


Edinburgh researchers are developing novel biomaterials that have unique functions not seen in nature. Other biomaterials research is inspired by nature or repurposes properties of molecules found in the natural world.


Plants make excellent living ‘factories’ for novel materials and we have a unique capability in plant and algal biotechnology.

Veterinary medicine

Edinburgh is host to one of the largest clusters of animal health research in Europe, with expertise in animal breeding and veterinary medicine, which offers huge potential for the application of biotechnology.

Cell and Gene Therapy

We have world-class expertise in ‘living therapies’ such as stem cell therapies. Potentially these offer transformative solutions (‘cures’) to what are currently chronic, irreversible and poorly controlled diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease. We also have considerable expertise in the production of biologics, the fastest growing class of medicines.

Social Sciences

World-leading research carried out in the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences has wide-ranging impact on society and has the potential to make a difference to policy, professional practice, business performance and the wellbeing of communities and cultures. An example is the Innogen Institute, which helps guide new UK and global policies around the regulation of next generation biotechnologies such as synthetic biology and regenerative medicines.