Expertise at University of Edinburgh  

The University of Edinburgh applies cross-disciplinary expertise to create a more sustainable world for future generations. We work collaboratively across disciplines – from molecular biology through to social sciences – to carry out research to address global challenges. 

Our research ranges from fundamental life sciences through to planetary ecology and climate science. The applications of our expertise are similarly broad, spanning from industrial biotechnology to land management. Below are some examples of key areas of strength and their applications. 

You can also take the opportunity to sign up to an Explore Bio-Solutions webinar in September, and learn more about how Bio-Solutions expertise can tackle your challenges.


Research into materials at the University encompasses a wide range of biological materials, bioengineered materials and biomaterials. Edinburgh researchers are designing novel materials with unique properties and functions that are bioengineered, inspired by nature or repurposing molecules or materials found in the natural world.   


Biofilms are found in almost all of Earth’s environments. They find applicability in many fields and can be both problematic and beneficial; hence control of biofilm production and destruction is key. We are a leading actor in the National Biofilms Innovation Centre, which harnesses the UK’s Academic and Industrial Strength in Biofilms and aims to bring together the best of UK research and businesses to drive the translation of biofilm research into new market solutionsUniversity of Edinburgh research and expertise spans bioengineering, biofilm formation, inflammation research, infection control, hygiene and wastewater treatment and addresses global challenges like food safety, water security and antimicrobial resistance.   


The University of Edinburgh excels at genomics, with a number of research groups carrying out world-leading genomics research into the structure, function, and mapping of genomes in the areas of human medicine,  , agriculture and veterinary research, ecology, environmental research, genome engineering, and computational genomics.  This multidisciplinary expertise, embedded within institutes, centres, schools and colleges throughout the University, work together as Genomics at Edinburgh, our network and hub for genomics research at the University of Edinburgh.  

Big ‘Bio’ Data 

Modern biotechnologies generate vast volumes of information rich 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 and enables our drive to accelerate biotechnology research. 

Synthetic/Engineering Biology 

This expertise is core to our ability to predictably redesign and build organisms with new capabilities. Edinburgh is proud to host two research centres: SynthSys; and the only research centre globally to focus on mammalian synthetic biology (the UK Centre for Mammalian Synthetic Biology).   

Social Sciences 

The University is host to the Innogen Institute and Edinburgh Hub for Responsible Innovation, which guide the development, regulation and adoption of new technologies including next generation biotechnologies based on synthetic biology and regenerative medicine. 

Application areas: 

Industrial Biotechnology 

We have a wide range of research using engineered cells to: produce key value added molecules (e.g. chemicals, ingredients, flavourings), use novel feedstocks, re-use industrial by-products, generate value from waste streams, recycle rare metals, harness the properties of novel microbes (e.g. extremophiles), and bioremediate contaminated sites using microbes. 


Many industries are transitioning towards renewable biological resources to replace unsustainable or polluting materials or processes. New materials and biology-based solutions can find applications in varied sectors such as land management, water and environment, infrastructure, engineering, and manufacturing.  

Food and drink 

Edinburgh researchers cover a broad range of activities relevant to food and drink ranging from plant health and agriculture through the science of composition and texture of food products and fluid dynamics of liquids. We have led the replacement of chemical food colouring dyes with natural alternatives and circular economy expertise is available to address efficiency and product reuse and recycling. 

Personal care products 

Our academic expertise can be applied to several aspects of personal care products such as formulation and physical properties in produce performance and microbiological characteristics. Additionally, our plant sciences researchers and facilities can explore natural additives and the replacement of petrochemical derived ingredients with those sourced naturally or derived using biotechnology. 

Human health and wellbeing 

The University pools the resources and complementary skills of the centres which constitute one of the largest combinations s of UK human molecular genetics and biology research capacity  to accelerate translation of basic scientific discoveries into the new treatments, clinical guidelines and innovative products that will have significant societal impact in the UK and worldwide. The research looks to employ multimodal approaches to provide mechanistic insights that impact both diagnosis and treatment within disease. A wide range of multidisciplinary methodologies are employed to achieve this from machine learning and synthetic biology through to deep mutational scanning.