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George McArthur IV

George McArthur, Whitaker International Fellow at Imperial College London

Imagination is more important than knowledge.
Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.
- Einstein

My research is focused on the development of genetically encoded molecular machines to control the expression and activity of metabolic pathways in microbes. This is made possible largely by significant advances in computational, systems and synthetic biology. I earned a BS in 2008 from the University of Virginia where I studied music, chemical engineering and biology and was mentored by Erik Fernandez (chemical engineering) and Jason Papin (biomedical engineering). I carried out my graduate research with Travis Bayer (synthetic biology) at Imperial College London, where I was a Whitaker International Fellow, and with Steve Fong at Virginia Commonwealth University (chemical engineering) where I earned my PhD in 2013. In addition to my research, I develop material for biology and biotechnology curricula. My research interests include:

  • Orthogonal gene expression
  • Artificial gene networks
  • Synthetic metagenomics
  • Genome organization, refactoring & design
  • Metabolic, organellar & enzyme engineering
  • Genome-scale, single-cell characterization

Education & Training

Imperial College London · London, UK · 2011 — 2012

  • Whitaker International Fellow · Bioengineering
    • Advised by Travis S. Bayer

Virginia Commonwealth University · Richmond, VA · 2008 — 2013

  • Ph.D. · Chemical and Biological Engineering
    • Advised by Stephen S. Fong
  • M.S. · Chemical Engineering

University of Virginia · Charlottesville, VA · 2002 — 2008

  • B.S. · Chemical Engineering, Music, Biology minor
    • Advised by Erik J. Fernandez and Jason A. Papin



  • Poster - Orthogonal and tunable expression of metabolic pathways, Synthetic Biology 6.0. Imperial College, London, UK, 9-11 July 2013
  • Poster - Predictable gene expression using extended promoters and orthogonal cellular machinery, Cell Factories and Biosustainability. Favrholm, Copenhagen, DK, 5-8 May 2013
  • Poster - The development of a genetically encoded, function-based taxol biosensor, Metabolic Engineering IX. Biarritz, FR, 3-7 June 2012
  • Poster - An orthogonal transcription platform for fine-tuning gene expression, Synthetic Biology 5.0. Stanford University, Stanford, CA, 15-17 June 2011
  • Poster (invited) - A synthetic platform for controlling gene expression, Workshop: What are the potential roles of synthetic biology in NASA's mission?, 30-31 October 2010, NASA Ames Center, Moffett Field, CA
  • Poster - Modulating gene expression in Escherichia coli with synthetic UP elements, BIOFAB 2010 Community Meeting, 19-20 July 2010, Emeryville, CA
  • Poster - Modulating gene expression in Escherichia coli with synthetic UP elements, ASM 2010, 23-27 May 2010, San Diego, CA
  • Poster - Chlamydomonas reinhardtii as a photosynthetic cellular chassis and power supply for synthetic biological systems, BioSysBio 2009, 23-25 March 2009, Cambridge University, Cambridge, UK
  • Poster - Chlamydomonas reinhardtii as a platform for the direct photosynthesis of advanced biofuels, Institute of Biological Engineering 2009 annual meeting, 19-22 March 2009, Santa Clara, CA
  • Poster - A bottom-up approach to synthetic biology education: From iGEM teams to undergraduate curricula, Synthetic Biology 4.0, 10-12 October 2008, HKUST, Hong Kong, China
  • Talk - The Virginia Genetically Engineered Machine Team, BioSysBio 2008, 20-22 April 2008, Imperial College, London, UK
  • Poster - Harvesting cellulose and light to power butanol biosynthesis: A synthetic biology approach to metabolic engineering, Institute of Biological Engineering 2008 annual meeting, 6-9 March 2008, Chapel Hill, NC
  • Talk/poster - Harvesting cellulose and light to power butanol biosynthesis: A synthetic biology approach to metabolic engineering, iGEM 2007, 3-4 November 2007, MIT, Cambridge, MA

Development of Courses and Educational Programs

I am the founder of the iGEM teams at the University of Virginia and Virginia Commonwealth University. In addition, I have developed undergraduate and graduate courses in synthetic biology.


iGEM Teams