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Dr Colin Scott

Synthetic Biology Future Science Platform Director


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Contact details:

GPO BOX 1700


Dr Scott was born in Scotland. He obtained a BSc (hon) in Genetics from the University of Wales in 1996 and a PhD in Molecular Microbiology from Sheffield University (England) in 2000.

He moved to CSIRO Entomology in Canberra in 2004 as a post-doctoral fellow, and now leads CSIRO’s Synthetic Biology Future Science Platform. Synthetic biology applies engineering principles to biology. It involves the design and construction of biological systems and devices, based on DNA-encoded componentry, and their application for useful purposes. CSIRO's Synthetic Biology Future Science Platform is positioning Australia to play a role in one of the fastest growing areas of modern science so that we can understand global developments and, where appropriate, contribute to advances in areas including manufacturing, industrial biotechnology, environmental remediation, biosecurity, agriculture and healthcare research.

Dr Scott is also the Interim Director of the Advanced Engineering Biology FSP. Engineering Biology (Synthetic Biology at scale) has the potential to unlock a new BioEconomy that delivers 50,000 new jobs and $30 Billion a year to Australia. The Advanced Engineering Biology FSP will provide future technology platforms to Australia that supercharge the speed of new biotechnology delivery through streamlined, molecular design & engineering tools, highly efficient bioproduction systems and data-driven decision-making tools. These new technology platforms will deliver innovative solutions that tackle the emerging national challenges of Food Security, National Health & Wellbeing, and carbon-neutral Future Industries.

Dr Scott leads a research team (Biocatalysis and Synthetic Biology team) that investigates, engineers and harnesses the biochemical and metabolic diversity found in nature. Enzymes are nature's nanotechnology: nanoscale machines that carry out all of the chemical reactions needed for life to survive and prosper. Evolution has produced a countless number of these chemical reactions, and as the world continues to evolve, so do the enzymes, responding to the introduction of new molecules with new functions. We can harness these enzymes for applications such as biocatalysis (making chemicals) and bioremediation (cleaning up pollution).

The team draws on the amazing versatility of natural enzymes to provide new solutions for a variety of applications. Our team isolates and studies enzymes at an atomic level to understand how they work, we re-engineer them to be suitable for particular applications, and we even use the power of evolution to help us adapt enzymes for use in biocatalysis and bioremediation. Our research provides biocatalytic alternatives for industries decreasing their reliance on petrochemical feedstocks and increasing sustainability through reduction of waste, energy usage and production costs.

​The Bioctalysis & Synthetic Biology Team investigates:

  • Enzymes and microbes that clean up pollution
  • Whole-cell and cell-free biocatalysts for the production of proteins, pharmaceuticals, fine chemicals and plastics/polymers
  • Biological sensors that detect small molecules, such as pollutants
  • Automated methods for the design and assembly of new proteins and fermentation organisms

Partnering Opportunities are available in these areas - please contact Dr. Scott directly for more information:

Current Roles

  • Synthetic Biology Future Science Platform Director
    Leading CSIRO's Synthetic Biology Future Science Platform

  • Advanced Engineering Biology Future Science Platform Interim Director
    Leading CSIRO's Advanced Engineering Biology Future Science Platform

Academic Qualifications

  • 2000

    PhD in Molecular Microbioogy
    University of Sheffield

  • 1996

    BSc (Hon) in Genetics
    University of Aberystwyth

Achievements and Awards

  • 2010-2013

    Julius Award

Other highlights

  • 2020-Present

    Adjunct Professor - Queensland University of Technology

  • 2010-Present

    Editor - Biodegradation (Spinger)

  • 2016-Present

    Application Domain Leader - CSIRO Synthetic Biology Future Science Platform