Professor Wei Huang

Wei imageQualifications

PhD, MSc, BSc


Dr Wei Huang is an associate professor on synthetic biology. His main research interests include: 1) Synthetic biology (SimCells, biosensors and bioenergy); 2) Single cell Raman biotechnology (Raman activated cell sorting for single cell -omics). 


  • Associate Editor for Environmental Microbiology
  • Associate Editor for Microbial Biotechnology
  • EPSRC Fellowship on Synthetic Biology
  • Developing SimCells (simple and simulated cells) for synthetic biology
  • One of pioneers studying microbes at single cell level using Raman micro-spectroscopy
  • Pioneer employing ultrasound to transfer DNA to bacterial cells
  • Biosensor design and application

Current projects 

  • EPSRC, Fellowship for synthetic biology, PI, Development of SimCells as building blocks for synthetic biology. 2014-2019.
  • NERC seedcorn, LinkPI: Linking Phenotype function with Identity: a novel integrated single-cell technology and metagenomics approach. 2018-2020.
  • ME Association project. CFS/ME diagnosis by single cell Raman technology. 2018-2019. 
  • BBSRC sLoLa, Co-I, Engineering new capacities for solar energy utilisation in bacteria (PI: Prof Neil Hunter, University of Sheffield). 2015-2020
  • EPSRC, Co-I, Liquid Fuel and bioEnergy Supply from CO2 Reduction (PI: Prof Keith Scott, Newcastle University). 2016-2020

Past projects 

  • EPSRC Flashlight Synthetic Biology fund, shared PI, Engineering a semi-biotic immune system. 2010-2015.
  • NERC, Co-I, Biogeochemical cycling of N-osmolytes in the surface ocean (PI: Dr Yin Chen, Warwick University). 2014-2017.
  • EU grant ECOWATER, USFD PI, Shared with Corus Ltd and CSM. 2010-2013
  • Royal Society Research fund 2009/R2, PI, Biosensor cell arrays for monitoring environmental pollution. 2010
  • NERC, Innovative A, PI, Novel biosensor for genotoxicity detection.2010
  • EPSRC, KTA fund, PI, Development of bacterial biosensors. 2009
  • NERC grant, PI, Interaction of nanoparticles with microbial populations during particle transport. 2007
  • NERC, Innovative Grant, New Concept of Biosensors. 2005-2006 
  • EC FP7, Co-I, Soil transformations in European catchments (PI: Prof Steve Banwart, University of Sheffield). 2009-2014
  • EPSRC, Co-I, BioEngineering from first principles  (PI: Prof Steve Banwart, University of Sheffield). 2010


  • C10: Engineering Principles for Synthetic Biology
  • C9: Environmental Engineering
  • B2: Engineering, sustainability and the environment

Selected Publications (* corresponding author)

  • Catherine Fan, Paul A. Davison, Robert Habgood, Christoph M. Decker, Manuela Gesell Salazar, Khemmathin Lueangwattanapong, Helen E. Townley, Ian P. Thompson, Hua Ye, Zhanfeng Cui, Frank Schmidt, C. Neil Hunter and Wei E. Huang* Chromosome-free bacterial cells are safe and programmable platforms for synthetic biology (2020) Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 117:6752-6761.
  • Fan C., Wu Y.H., Decker C., Rohani R., Gesell Salazar M., Ye H., Cui Z., Schmidt F., Huang W.E.*. Defensive Function of Transposable Elements in Bacteria. (2019) ACS Synthetic Biology 8:2141-2151.
  • Chen, J.X., Steel, H., Wu, Y-H, Wang, Y., Xu J., Rampley C.P.N., Thompson I.P., Papachristodoulou A, Huang W.E.*. (2019) Development of aspirin inducible biosensors in Escherichia coli and SimCells. Applied & Environmental Microbiology 85:e02959-18. Highlighted by AEM Spotlight.
  • Hsu C.C., Xu J., Brinkhofa B., Wang H., Cui Z., Huang W.E.*, Ye H.* (2020) A Single-Cell Raman-based Platform to Identify Developmental Stages of Human Pluripotent Stem Cell-derived Neurons. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 117: 18412-18423.
  • Jing, X., Gou, H., Gong, Y., Su, X., Xu, L. Ji, Y. Song, Y., Thompson, I.P., Xu, J. Huang, W.E.* (2018) Raman-activated cell sorting and metagenomic sequencing revealing carbon-fixing bacteria in the ocean. Environmental Microbiology 20:2241-2255.
  • Song, Y., Kaster, A., Vollmers, J., Song, Y., Davison, P.A., Frentrup, M., Preston, G.M., Thompson, I.P., Murrell, J.C., Yin, H., Hunter, C.N., Huang, W.E.* (2017) Single cell genomics based on Raman sorting reveals novel carotenoid-containing bacteria in the Red Sea. Microbial Biotechnology. 10:125-137.
  • Zhang, D., Berry, J.P., Zhu, D., Wang, Y., Chen, Y., Jiang, B., Huang, S., Langford, H., Li, G., Xu, J., Aries, E. and Huang, W.E.* (2015) Isolation and physiological characterisation of an uncultured degrader in a complex microbial community. ISME Journal 9:603-614. 
  • Li M, Canniffe DP, Jackson PJ, Davison PA, FitzGerald S, Dickman MJ, Burgess JG, Hunter CN & Huang WE* (2012) Rapid resonance Raman microspectroscopy to probe carbon dioxide fixation by single cells in microbial communities. ISME Journal 6:875-885.
  • Huang WE*, Ferguson A, Singer AC, Lawson K, Thompson IP, Kalin RM, Larkin MJ, Bailey MJ & Whiteley AS (2009) Resolving genetic functions within microbial populations: In situ analyses using rRNA and mRNA stable isotope probing coupled with single-cell Raman-fluorescence in situ hybridization. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 75:234-241.
  • Song Y, Li G, Thornton SF, Thompson IP, Banwart SA, Lerner DN & Huang WE* (2009) Optimization of bacterial whole cell bioreporters for toxicity assay of environmental samples. Environmental Science and Technology 43:7931-7938.
  • Huang WE, Stoecker K, Griffiths R, Newbold L, Daims H, Whiteley A & Wagner M (2007) Raman-FISH: Combining stable-isotope Raman spectroscopy and fluorescence in situ hybridization for the single cell analysis of identity and function. Environmental Microbiology 9:1878-1889.
  • Song Y, Hahn T, Thompson IP, Mason TJ, Preston GM, Li G, Paniwnyk L & Huang WE* (2007) Ultrasound-mediated DNA transfer for bacteria. Nucleic Acids Research 35:e129.
  • Huang WE, Wang H, Zheng H, Huang L, Singer AC, Thompson IP & Whiteley AS (2005) Chromosomally located gene fusions constructed in Acinetobacter sp. ADP1 for the detection of salicylate. Environmental Microbiology 7:1339-1348.
  • Huang WE*, Griffiths RI, Thompson IP, Bailey MJ & Whiteley AS (2004) Raman microscopic analysis of single microbial cells. Analytical Chemistry 76:4452-4458.