29 septembre 2011: Dr Phil Holliger

Thursday, September 29th 2011, 12h30


Dr Phil Holliger
Programme Leader, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology
Cambridge, UK

"Reconstructing the RNA World"
A critical event in the origin of life is thought to have been the emergence of an RNA molecule capable of self-replication as well as mutation, and hence evolution towards more efficient replication. While this primordial replicase appears to be have been lost in time, we can use synthetic biology to build modern-day “Doppelgangers” of the ancestral replicase to reconstruct and study life’s first genetic system. I will discuss our progress in the engineering and evolution of an RNA replicase and future challenges such as the integration of RNA self-replication within protocellular structures with a view to build a simple synthetic cell with life-like properties. Success in this area will not only revolutionize our understanding of abiogenesis but provide a fertile test-bed for models of prebiotic chemistry and early evolution.

Dr Holliger graduated at ETH Zürich with Steve Benner before moving to the Cambridge Centre for Protein Engineering (CPE), for his Ph.D. and postdoctoral fellowship with Sir Greg Winter. In 2000, he joined the MRC-LMB as a tenure-track and was appointed program leader in 2005. His research interests span the fields of chemical biology, synthetic biology and directed evolution