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Biomanufacturing at the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering

Prof. Tuck Seng Wong – leading a Biocatalysis and Synthetic Biology research group at the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering

Prof. Tuck Seng Wong is a Professor of Biomanufacturing from the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at the University of Sheffield. He is also a Visiting Professor at the National Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (BIOTEC, Thailand) and an Adjunct Professor at the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB, Indonesia).

Prof. Tuck Seng Wong Tuck is a recipient of multiple prestigious fellowships, including the RAEng | Leverhulme Trust Senior Research Fellowship (2019), the Royal Academy of Engineering Industrial Fellowship (2016), and the MRC Career Development Fellowship (2007). His biomanufacturing research is funded by UKRI (including BBSRC and EPSRC), Royal Academy of Engineering, The Leverhulme Trust, Royal Society, and various industries (e.g., Planeat Foods, WhatIF Foods, AstraZeneca, ACM Biolabs, AAVACC, Valitacells, Croda, Invista, and Agilent etc).

Tuck is leading a Biocatalysis and Synthetic Biology research group in Sheffield. His research passion lies in applying engineered biological systems (e.g., enzymes, microbes) for biomanufacturing. Inspired by his mentor Nobel Laureate Prof. Frances H. Arnold, Tuck is particularly interested in applying Darwinian Evolution algorithm (random variation and non-random selection) to isolate and identify fit-for-purpose biological systems for industrial-scale manufacturing. Through the lens of evolution, he also seeks to understand biodiversity and how Nature designs and evolves a myriad of highly intricate biological machineries (e.g., organisms that capture and utilise carbon dioxide as a carbon feedstock for biomanufacturing, organisms that naturally accumulate bioplastics or oil etc). From there, Tuck develops his research ideas and solutions to the global challenges facing our society such as climate change, resource scarcity, food security and health security.[1]

Tuck has over 20 years of research experience in protein science and engineering, covering a range of applications including alternative foods, biopharmaceuticals, and enzyme biocatalysis. He is an author of the protein engineering textbook ‘A Practical Guide to Protein Engineering’ (ISBN 978-3-030-56898-6). During the first COVID lockdown in the UK, he led a team in Sheffield to manufacture SARS-CoV-2 spike proteins and supplied them to local hospitals in Sheffield (Royal Hallamshire Hospital and Northern General Hospital) to develop antibody-based serological COVID-19 test.[2-4]

In 2022, Tuck co-founded Evolutor Ltd with Dr. Kang Lan Tee and Mr. Joe Price, through the financial support from the Royal Academy of Engineering, Research England, Innovate UK, and the University of Sheffield. Evolutor Ltd is a biotech spinout based in Sheffield, with a focus on developing advanced microbes for biomanufacturing through a proprietary automated evolution platform.[5,6] Currently, Tuck is leading the ReNewFood team in Sheffield together with Mr Matthew Hutchinson to commercialise protein-based flavour ingredients to enhance the sensory profile and the nutritional value of alternative foods such as plant-based food and meat surrogates.[7] These protein ingredients are manufactured using precision fermentation.

Tuck and Evolutor team

Tuck has been coaching the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) team from the University of Sheffield. iGEM is an annual competition where multidisciplinary student teams from all over the world compete for medals and awards by designing, building, and testing projects using cutting edge synthetic biology. In 2019, the team Sheffield won a Gold Medal and Best Open Project with their OPENLUX project. In 2022, the team replicated their success by winning another Gold Medal with their rEvolver project. Their bioreactor design also saw them nominated for the Best Hardware. Tuck is also the co-founder and director of Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) programme. SURF introduces undergraduate students to research under the guidance of research mentors in the department. It provides an opportunity for undergraduate students to get involved in the research enterprise in the department, enhance their employability, develop their technical and transferable skills, as well as stimulate their research interest.

Tuck has the ambition to become a world-leader in biomanufacturing, making a contribution to a sustainable future and developing a vibrant biomanufacturing community.

Further readings:

  1. How is a vaccine engineered? https://www.expresspharma.in/how-is-a-vaccine-engineered/
  2. Purification of recombinant SARS-CoV-2 spike, its receptor binding domain, and CR3022 mAb for serological assay, bioRvix, https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.07.31.231282v1
  3. Production of trimeric SARS-CoV-2 spike protein by CHO cells for serological COVID-19 testing, https://doi.org/10.1002/bit.27615
  4. Production of trimeric SARS-CoV-2 spike protein by CHO cells for serological COVID-19 testing, medRxiv, https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.08.07.20169441v1
  5. The engineering behind Evolutor, https://doi.org/10.33424/FUTURUM292
  6. Next-generation microbe optimisation with Joe Price of Evolutor, https://bioinnovation.captivate.fm/episode/20-joe-price
  7. Alternative proteins: The sustainable solution? https://www.foodmanufacture.co.uk/Article/2022/12/06/Alternative-proteins-podcast-highlights-sustainability-potential