Lab Blog

April, 2024

Funding boost by the Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP)

We are thrilled to announce that our team has received another funding boost - this time from the Human Frontier Science Program! This prestigious funding,  totalling US$1.5 million, will support our collaborative project, "Unraveling the Secrets of Ultra-Rapid Microbial Growth," which aims to explore the unique physico-chemical properties that enable the rapid growth of Vibrio natriegens. Our international partners in this exciting venture include Terence Hwa at the University of California, San Diego, Sven van Teeffelen at the University of Montreal, and Teuta Pilizota at the University of Edinburgh. Each brings unique expertise in bacterial physiology, cellular biophysics, and bacterial energetics and transport, respectively.

This project is set to advance our fundamental understanding of microbial life and paves the way for innovative approaches to harnessing bacteria for environmental and industrial solutions. Join us in celebrating this achievement and stay tuned for updates in this space!

P.S.: If you are a Postdoc and would like to work on this project, please email Georg!

March , 2024

Fritz Lab is growing

In the new year, we have welcomed many new students and members of the Fritz Lab: Ivar de Jong, a new PhD student joining us from Wageningen University and Anna Griffiths, Luke Pineda and Sinu Sunny joining us as Masters of Biotechnology students for their dissertation projects!  We are super happy to be growing and to have many more hands join us in all kinds of new and exciting research. 

November, 2023

Great entrepreneurial thinking by Roland

Roland joined the Centre for Entrepreneurial Research and Innovation's (CERI) 12 week "Concept to Creation" Bootcamp program to learn and apply what it takes to commercialise his research ideas. In the final round of pitching he could secure both the people's choice and overall prize and win $5000. Way to go Roland! 

November, 2023

SBA 2023 Conference - A big success! 

What a wild few months it has been! The biannual Synthetic Biology Australasia (SBA) Conference took place here in Perth, Western Australia (Noogar Boodja) this year and we can say with pride that it was a massive success. It was the biggest ever SBA conference with over 240 attendees from Australia, New Zealand and abroad. Several people in our lab got involved in the organisation, making the conference the success that it was. We listened to inspiring talks, fostered new connections with amazing people in research and industry, all while enjoying our beautiful city in the Noongar season of Kambarang. Can't wait to see what will become off our freshly reignited passion for SynBio!

November, 2023

Welcome, Simona! 

The good news are not stopping this year: Simona is joining us as a new Postdoctoral fellow from Oxford, UK and join forces in the CO2 biofoundary project. So, let's get brewing with our new biofoundary! You have already been a joy to work with just in the last few days Simona. We look forward to accelerating our research with the help of your expertise and hope you will enjoy your new beautiful and sunny home Perth.

October, 2023

Welcome, Tim! 

Tim has been joining us for the past month as an intern to gain some experience in the field of SynBio and see if the field is the right fit for him. As he is a passionate Microbiologist we are now very excited to now welcome him as a new PhD researcher in our lab.  Together with Ruben he will dive into the world of living materials and find innovative solutions to making our materials more sustainable. Watch out for news on this new and exciting project. 

October, 2023

Welcome, Ruben! 

Ruben will join our team for a Master of Biotechnology to work on a new and exciting project in the living materials space. His passion for innovative solutions to fighting climate change will surely help him succeed through his research and we wish him the best of luck with his research and his first time working in the field of Synthetic Biology  (because we know.. a little bit of luck does help sometimes). 

July, 2023

ARC Future Fellowship for Georg!

We are very excited to announce that Georg has managed to win one of the prestigious ARC Future Fellowships. With the funding provided through the Fellowship, our lab will be able to make key advancements in turning our beloved Vibrio natriegens into a highly valuable platform chassis for synthetic biology and microbial cell factories. Thanks to all the people who have contributed to our projects and those supporting us in our SynBio mission. 

Congratulations Georg! We are all proud to have you as our team leader and look forward to what the next years will bring. 

May, 2023

Entrepreneur program completed

We congratulate Anna for completing the ten week entrepreuneur program Concept to Creation at CERI (Centre for Entrepreneurial Research and Innovation). Key takeaways from this program include lessons on emphasizing the significance of one's "why" in all endeavors; recognizing the transformative power of passion in leadership and its impact on driving innovation across various societal domains; and stressing the importance of identifying problems and understanding customers as essential components of success.

We extend our gratitude to both the audience and the judges for recognizing our efforts at the FritzLab and granting us second place in the people's choice category as well as third place in the judges' choice category at the final pitch night, winning AUD 4,000. 

April, 2023

Welcome, Katy!

We are happy to welcome Katy Morris as a new M.Sc. to our lab! Katy is an enthusiastic molecular biologists. Together with Roland and the Fritz lab, she works on genetically engineering Vibrio natriegens to optimise bioplastic production from carbon dioxide.

February, 2023

Visit by Woodside innovation experts

We had great pleasure in welcoming a group of international experts from Woodside Energy working on the company's innovation team. This special visit gave us the chance to explain how we use methods of biotechnology and synthetic biology to drive change towards a circular and sustainable economy. During a lab tour, the FritzLab showed the Woodside visitors how we are working on capturing CO2 with microalgae, degrading PET plastic using a genetically engineered Vibrio natriegens strain and managing high-throughput workflows using pipetting robots. 

February, 2023

$1.6M of funding to convert CO2 emissions into bioproducts

Hey there, exciting news! We are thrilled to announce that our team has been awarded a new ARC Linkage Project, "Building a CO2 foundry for sustainable carbon capture and utilization", which we and a team of chemists and biochemists from the UWA School of Molecular Sciences will run together with the New Energy team from Woodside Energy Ltd.

Our aim is to develop innovative technology that fuses synthetic biology with inorganic chemistry to capture and convert CO2 emissions from industrial sources into valuable chemicals like acetate, biopolymers and platform chemicals. We will be creating nano-structured electrocatalysts and genetically engineering microbes to achieve maximum CO2 conversion efficiency. This project has immense potential to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pave the way for a carbon-negative chemical industry. 

We are excited to be leading this project and grateful for the support from the ARC, Woodside and UWA! We believe that this project will showcase how innovation and technology can help mitigate environmental problems and create a sustainable future for all of us. So stay tuned for updates as we embark on this exciting journey.

January, 2023

Industry insights at Richgro

Thanks to Dr. Bede Mickan, the FritzLab and Dr. Heng Chooi (SMS, UWA) were given an exclusive tour at the Richgro Facilities in Perth, WA. We learned about the production of compost, anaerobic fermentation of plant waste, biotechnology on an industrial scale, and the company's efforts to reduce the introduction of plastics into the environment. It was great to bring researchers and industry experts together to learn about up-scaling as well as political and financial considerations in the local biotech industry. 

January, 2023

Welcome, Wlad!

We warmly welcome Wladimir Fae Neto as a new postdoc to our lab! Wlad is an oceanographer with a background in marine biotechnology. With him, exciting new microbes will move into the lab as Wlad is working on capturing CO2 with microalgae. We are very pleased to welcome Wlad to the FritzLab team that now has additional support on its mission to drive green biotechnology and synthetic biology forwards.

November, 2022

New funding by the Australian Research Council to support the construction of synthetic genetic timer circuits

It's time to celebrate some exciting news! The ARC has recently funded our new Discovery Project called "Synthetic biology tools for just-in-time control of biosynthetic pathways". This project is set to revolutionize the way we produce valuable chemicals, ranging from antibiotics to biomaterials.

Synthetic biology has been making waves in the field of sustainable synthesis, allowing us to create precious chemicals in an eco-friendly way. However, there have been some obstacles along the way. One of the biggest issues is that many of these compounds are toxic to microbes, making traditional production methods challenging. This new project is going to tackle this problem head-on. By building genetic circuits that enable smart, just-in-time activation of target genes, the project aims to overcome this limitation. This approach is pervasive in natural pathways and will allow us to boost production levels of valuable antibiotics and calcite precipitation in self-healing concrete. The latter aim will be tackled in collaboration with Prof Susanne Gebhard from the University of Mainz, Germany.

It's exciting to think about the possibilities that this project will unlock for the field of synthetic biology. We are enthusiastic and determined to push the boundaries of what's possible. With the support of the ARC, we can look forward to seeing some groundbreaking results in the near future!

November, 2022

Successful participation at the 5th Annual PhD Research Symposium

Every year, PhD candidates at the School of Molecular Sciences at UWA present their work at the Annual PhD Research Symposium. This year, Roland and Anna showed their research results in the form of posters. In lively discussions, they talked about their findings and open questions. Congratulations to Roland who won the Best Biochemistry Poster Award sponsored by Eppendorf.

September, 2022

Talk and poster presentation at the ComBio 2022 conference

We are happy that Anna and Roland could participate successfully at the ComBio 2022 conference in Melbourne. Both PhD students actively presented their work, made new research connections and intensified the lab's network with sales-reps and companies. In the category "Synthetic Biology", Roland gave his first conference talk about his PhD research on bioplastic production with Vibrio natriegens. We are also excited that Anna won the ASBMB poster price for the display of the team's results on microbial PET degradation. 

September, 2022

Rojan Beikrasouli joins us for an exciting undergraduate project

Rojan is going to join our PhD student Rebecca to develop new antimicrobial combination assays using our automation systems. Her work will focus on using cell-wall targeting antibiotics and explore how the combination of these affects growth of gram-positive bacteria. Very happy to have you join us Rojan!! 

September, 2022

Great time at the Research Bazar 2022

What a great oppertunity to participate in the ResBaz 2022 workshops at the Curtin University, Perth. Rebecca, Roland, Anna and Wing spent three days learning about different programming languages, personal branding and bioinformatic pipelines. The new knowledge and research connections will for sure come in useful in the upcoming months. 

August, 2022

Robson and Robertson Award goes to Anna Faber!

We are excited that Anna was granted one of the Robson and Robertson Awards 2022. This Young Scholar Program is funded by the Jock Clough Marine Foundation. The award will help Anna to extend her research on microbial plastic degradation in cooperation with researchers from the UWA Oceans Institute.

Synthetic Biology Australasia (SBA) is a non-profit society that aims to support the rapidly growing synthetic biology research field in Australia, New Zealand, and the broader Australasian region. 

April, 2022

Yay - the SBA conference 2023 will be held in Perth!

We are thrilled that the next SBA conference in 2023 will be held in Perth, WA, tentatively for 3 days in mid-November! As a bi-annual event, SBA'23 is expected to see between 250-300 participants from academia and industry, thereby constituting one of the largest Synthetic Biology meetings in the southern hemisphere. Georg will be chairing the conference and is working hard to get all ducks in a row. More updates to follow...

March, 2022

Welcome, Anna!

We warmly welcome Anna Faber as a new PhD student to our lab! She has a background in microbiology and chemistry and graduated from the University of Marburg in Germany. In her PhD, Anna will work on an exciting project aiming to engineer microbial plastic degradation pathways in bacteria.  Her work is supported through a generous PhD scholarship from the Forrest foundation. We wish you the best of luck with your project!!

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