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- 2005-2009, PhD, John Innes Centre, Norwich, United Kingdom
- 2000-2003, BSc(Hons), University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
In the Smolke laboratory we are working to take a drug biosynthetic pathway from a medicinal crop – namely the opium poppy – and engineer the production of the same therapeutic molecules in an industrial microbe; yeast.
As a Postdoc working together with members of the Metabolic Engineering team, my research focuses broadly on metabolically-engineering yeast to produce opiate alkaloids such as morphine and codeine, and specifically on the spatial engineering of this pathway in the host yeast cell. The spatial engineering approach is particularly useful because the biosynthesis of opiates takes place across several cell types and subcellular structures in the opium poppy. To successfully engineer this pathway within single-celled yeast we need to make use of the available cellular compartments. Yeast organelles could provide microenvironments that are conducive to opiate alkaloid biosynthesis due to optimal pH or the availability of cofactors; they could compartmentalize toxic metabolites or ensure a local concentration of intermediates; and they may be used to support the reconstitution of enzyme complexes which form in the opium poppy. In the future, we envisage that the development of yeast synthetic organelles could support further spatial engineering efforts without taxing the functioning of native organelles.
- a comment about a paper here