Uncovering the operating system of life

enlarged cell nucleus
10 March, 2022

The Royal Institution of Great Britain, 21 Albemarle Street, London, W1S 4BS


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General Information

We are in the midst of a scientific revolution. The ability to read, write and execute genetic code in cells is inducing a phase shift in biology.

Join neurosurgeon and stem cell biologist Mark Kotter to discuss this new paradigm in biology where we can programme cells and discover the operating system of life.

In this talk explore the transition of biology into engineering, which allows us to control cells, the building blocks of life. No area will be left untouched as we build a better world with biology.

This event is in collaboration with the London Institute for Mathematical Sciences.

Meeting organisers:

The Royal Institution



Dr Mark Kotter is a doctor, scientist, and serial entrepreneur. As a neurosurgeon, he treats patients with spinal cord injury. Mark is best known for discovering the importance of macrophages for brain regeneration, which led to the first regenerative medicine trial for degenerative cervical myelopathy, and for developing opti-ox, a gene targeting approach that enables faithful execution of genetic information in cells. Applied to cellular reprogramming, opti-ox demonstrated that robust activation of a new cell type program (encoded in transcription factors) is necessary and sufficient to deterministically induce a new cellular identity. These findings challenge the theory that cell reprogramming depends on stochastically determined permissive states and enable the production of any human cell within days at purities approaching 100%.

He is the founder of bit.bio, co-founder of cultured meat startup Meatable, and co-founder and trustee of Myelopathy.org, the first charity dedicated to a common yet often overseen condition causing a ‘slow motion spinal cord injury’.

Dr Thomas Fink is the founding Director and a Trustee of the London Institute and Chargé de Recherche in the French CNRS. He studied physics at Caltech and Cambridge, winning the Fisher Prize for physics and Green Prize for research. He did a postdoc at École Normale Supérieure and was a Junior Fellow at Caius College, Cambridge, where he worked in the theory group of the Cavendish Laboratory. Dr Fink founded the London Institute in 2011, which became an Independent Research Organisation in 2019 and moved into the Royal Institution in 2021. In his research, he uses statistical physics and discrete mathematics to form basic science insights into physical, biological and socioeconomic systems.