Dr Claudia Vickers
Dr Claudia Vickers

BSc (Hons I) UQ, PhD UQ/CSIRO
AIBN Group Leader

Contact

Telephone: +61 7 334 63958, Email: c.vickers@uq.edu.au

RESEARCH: Synthetic biology to examine basic metabolic processes and build novel biological parts and devices

A/Professor Vickers applies synthetic biology approaches to answering key fundamental biological questions and to development/improvement of industrial bio-processes. She is particularly interested in using biology to replace current industrial practices (largely based on finite petrochemical resources) with sustainable, environmentally friendly processes. To this end, she uses the tools of systems and synthetic biology for metabolic engineering of organisms. Metabolic engineering is the rational redesign of organisms for production of specific industrially-useful compounds. A/Professor Vickers’ research is focussed on a large group of natural products called isoprenoids. Isoprenoids have many different biological functions; they also have a multitude of biotechnological applications (including pharmaceuticals, flavours, fragrances, agricultural chemicals, and biofuels). The group works in yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae), Escherichia coli, cyanobacteria (Synechocystis and Synechococcus spp.), Pseudomonas putida, and plants (various species). The major aim of the research program is to understand metabolic regulation through the isoprenoid pathways and to engineer carbon flux for industrial production. The group has developed many enabling molecular biology/synthetic biology tools for both plants and microbes; these tools are used in hundreds of labs across the world.

A/Professor Vickers obtained a BSc (Hons I) in molecular biology from the University of Queensland in 1998 and a PhD in plant molecular biology (cereal crop biotechnology) through CSIRO Plant Industry and The University of Queensland in 2004. She held a post-doctoral position at The University of Essex and Visiting Scientist position at the University of Lancaster 2004-2007, where she worked on abiotic stress and isoprene production in plants. She returned to The University of Queensland in 2007, joining the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology to expand her research program into microbial metabolic engineering.

A/Professor Vickers has worked with industry partners in a range of application areas to deliver industry-focused outcomes and provide consulting expertise. She has also acted as an advisor on synthetic biology and industrial biotechnology for the Australian Federal Government, the Queensland Government, and the Institute on Science for Global Policy.

Since January 2017 A/Professor Vickers has held a joint appointment with CSIRO to lead their Synthetic Biology Future Science Platform (SynBio FSP).

Industry Engagement and Collaborations

The group has collaborated with industry on a variety of different projects. Partners include: Queensland Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF Q), PepsiCo (USA), Samyang Biopharmaceuticals Corporation (Korea), Sanitarium, Lion (the brewing company), the XXXX Brewery, Stone & Wood Brewery, Joe White Maltings (now owned by Cargill), CSR Ltd, GS Caltex, Boeing Australia, Mackay Sugar Ltd, IOR Energy, Virgin Australia, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories (USA), and Amyris (USA). Current academic collaborations include partners at The University of Queensland, CSIRO Land & Water, The University of Technology Sydney, Tianjin University (China), and Utsunomiya University (Japan).

Awards

A/Professor Vickers has won numerous awards and Fellowships, including a Queensland Government Smart State Fellowship (2010), the University of Queensland Foundation Research Excellence Award (2013), a Queensland Government Accelerate Fellowship (2014), and a Young Tall Poppy Science Award (Australian Institute of Policy & Science; 2014). She has been working to develop and support synthetic biology across Australia and New Zealand for several years; as part of this initiative, she is founding President of Synthetic Biology Australasia (SBA).

Key Publications

Peng, B.Y.; Plan, M.; Chrysanthopoulos, P.; Hodson, M.; Nielsen, L.K.; Vickers, C.E.* (2016) A squalene synthase protein degradation method for improved sesquiterpene production in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Metabolic Engineering 39:209-219

Vickers, C.E.*; Bongers, M.; Qing, L.; Delatte, T.; Bouwmeester, H. (2014) Metabolic engineering of volatile isoprenoids in plants and microbes. Plant Cell & Environment 37(8):1753-1775

Williams, T.C.; Nielsen, L.K.; Vickers, C.E.* (2013) Engineered quorum-sensing using pheromone-mediated cell-to-cell communication in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. ACS Synthetic Biology 2(3):136-149

Vickers, C.E.*; Blank, L.M.; Kroemer, J.O. (2010) Chassis cells for industrial biochemical production. Nature Chemical Biology 6(12):875–877

Vickers, C.E.*; Gershenzon, J.; Lerdau, M.; Loreto, F. (2009) A unified mechanism of action for volatile isoprenoids in plant abiotic stress. Nature Chemical Biology 5:283-291 (invited)

Full list of publications available on UQ espace

Funding

Strain Improvement and optimization studies for enhanced production of GGPP (Geranylgeranyl Pyrophosphate)
(2016–2018) Samyang Biopharmaceuticals Corporation

Beverage Mouthfeel Ingredient Exploration via Leveraging Brewing Science and Systems Biology

(2015-2017) PepsiCo USAA sensitive, high resolution QTOF mass spectrometer with nanoUPLC system for qualitative and quantitative biomolecule analysis.
(2015) UQ Major Equipment and Infrastructure

From sugarcane to bio-products via microbial cell factories: Making sustainable, environmentally friendly agriculture chemicals to enhance crop productivity
(2014–2018) Queensland Government Accelerate Fellowships

Toward sustainable diesel production using microbial cells: unravelling isoprenoid pathway regulation through systems biology
(2014–2016) ARC Discovery Projects

Investigating the important foam positive proteins from malt
(2014–2015) UQ Collaboration and Industry Engagement Fund

From a petrochemical economy to a biochemical economy: Using synthetic biology to produce sustainable, environmentally friendly fuels and chemicals from engineered microbial cell bio-factories
(2014) UQ Foundation Research Excellence Awards - DVC(R) Funding

Multichannel potentiostats to drive microbial and electrochemical production processes
(2011) UQ Major Equipment and Infrastructure

Queensland Sustainable Aviation Fuel Initiative
(2010–2014) Queensland Government Smart State National and International Research Alliances Program

Smart Futures Fellowship: Engineering sucrose-based industrial isoprenoid production in yeast cells
(2010–2014) Queensland Government Smart Futures Fellowships

 

A/Professor Claudia Vickers section

AIBN Systems and Synthetic Biology

Vickers: Research Projects

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