TICKER: A cell history recorder for longitudinal patient monitoring

TICKER: A cell history recorder for longitudinal patient monitoring

Project details

Cells are exquisite sensing ‘machines’ that continuously monitor their environment for signals. These signals dictate cell differentiation, division or biological function. Unfortunately, there is no ‘recording’ left behind to correlate a cell’s past with its current state.

Recent engineering technologies have enabled cells to record biological processes into their DNA, so called ‘cell recorders’. However, they currently can’t record signal strength, duration and order simultaneously.

In this project, a ‘cell history recorder’ is developed that overcomes these limitations using insertion of DNA barcodes (produced in response to cellular events) into a defined locus. Termed Triggered Induction of Cassettes that Knock-in and Elongate for later Readout, or TICKER, creates a DNA 'TICKER-tape' that can be read out via sequencing. TICKER is anticipated to become a powerful synthetic biology tool for patient monitoring, disease prediction, and basic science.

This project suits someone with interests in synthetic biology, molecular biology and DNA sequencing.

About our research group

The Single Cell Systems Biology laboratory focuses on understanding development at a single cell or ‘clonal’ level. Our biological interests are focused on haematopoiesis (both in the steady-state and after perturbation with inflammation or during leukemia). We have a particular interest in the development of the dendritic cell subtypes of the immune system.

We both adopt and develop our own technologies including cellular barcoding for clonal lineage tracing, as well as single cell ‘multi-omics’. Depending on interests and skills, students in the lab are encouraged and supported in learning both the laboratory techniques to generate new data, as well as the computational tools to analyse and interpret the results.


Email supervisors



Dr Shalin Naik

Dr Shalin Naik in the laboratory
Laboratory Head
Dr Tom Weber
Immunology division

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