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Directing Biosynthesis VII

1 - 3 July 2024, Birmingham, United Kingdom

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Together with the organizing committee and the Royal Society of Chemistry, I would like to extend a warm invitation to join us in Birmingham in July 2024 for the next edition of the Directing Biosynthesis series. Established in 2006, and now in its seventh iteration, Directing Biosynthesis is a key conference for the community of researchers interested in diverse aspects of biosynthesis.
As in the past, this conference will bring together established researchers, early-career scientists, post-graduate students and members of industry to share and discover cutting-edge research, reconnect with colleagues and establish new collaborations. Ample opportunities will be provided for both networking and discussion, as well as for poster presentations by younger researchers. 
On behalf of the scientific committee, I look forward to welcoming you to Birmingham in 2024.
Kira J. Weissman, University of Lorraine


  • Genetics, enzymology and structural biology of natural product biosynthesis 
  • Genome and microbiome mining, microbiome engineering 
  • Synthetic biology and metabolic engineering
  • Chemical ecology and computational approaches for assessing natural products/enzyme functional diversity 
  • Industrial applications of natural products and biosynthetic enzymes

The Chemistry and Biology of Natural Products Symposium XVII - University of Warwick

Directing Biosynthesis VII will be followed on Thursday 4 and Friday 5 July 2024 by The Chemistry and Biology of Natural Products Symposium XVII, a 2 day symposium dedicated to presentations by PhD students, postdocs and other early career researchers. Registration for the two meetings is separate, please see the symposium link for further details.
Christine Beemelmanns, Saarland University, Germany

Christine Beemelmanns is a Professor of Medicinal-Pharmaceutical Microbiota Research at Saarland University, affiliated with the Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland (HIPS). Her research seamlessly integrates natural product chemistry, applied microbiology, and organic chemistry, aiming to both chemically and functionally characterize microbial signaling and defense molecules across various symbiotic model systems. The analysis of ancient and evolved microbial interactions enables her to discover unprecedented chemical core structures with significant pharmaceutical potential.

Christine's academic journey commenced with the study of Chemistry at RWTH Aachen. After completing her degree, she embarked on a one-year research stay in Japan with Prof. Sodeoka at RIKEN. Upon returning to Germany, she conducted research at FU Berlin under the guidance of Prof. Reißig, culminating in the attainment of her Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry. Following this, she spent an additional six months in Japan at the University of Tokyo under the supervision of Prof. K. Suzuki. Subsequently, in 2011, she joined the group of Prof. Clardy at Harvard Medical School (Boston).

In 2013, Christine received a call from the Hans-Knöll Institute (HKI), inviting her to serve as a Junior Research Group leader in the field of Natural Products Chemistry and Chemical Biology. In 2020, she was elected as the Margaret L. and Harlan L. Goering Visiting Professor in Organic Chemistry at UW Madison during the spring term. In 2022, she was appointed as a Professor for Biochemistry of Microbial Metabolism at Leipzig University, before relocating later that year to Saarland University, in collaboration with HIPS.

Greg Challis, University of Warwick, United Kingdom

Greg Challis graduated with a BSc in Chemistry (1994) from Imperial College London and a DPhil in Organic Chemistry (1998) from the University of Oxford, for research carried out under the supervision of Sir Jack Baldwin. He carried out postdoctoral research as a Wellcome Trust International Prize Travelling Research Fellow in the Department of Chemistry at Johns Hopkins University, USA, with Prof Craig Townsend (1998-2000) and in the Department of Genetics at John Innes Centre, UK, with Prof Keith Chater (2000-2001). In 2001 he took up a lectureship in Chemical Biology in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Warwick and in 2006 he was promoted to Professor. In July 2016, he was appointed as the Monash-Warwick Alliance Professor of Sustainable Chemistry (Chemical and Synthetic Biology), a joint position between the Department of Chemistry at the University of Warwick, and the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. In 2020, he co-founded the University of Warwick spinout company Erebagen, and in 2021 he became co-director of the Monash-Warwick Alliance Major Research Initiative in Emerging Superbug Threats and a Chief Investigator in the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Innovations in Peptide and Protein Science (CIPPS). 

Greg’s research interests encompass the discovery, mechanism of action, biosynthesis, bioengineering and evolution of bioactive natural products. His research has been recognised by numerous awards, most recently a Wolfson Research Merit Award (2013-2018) from the Royal Society and the 2017 Interdisciplinary Prize of the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Lou Charkoudian, Haverford College, United States

Lou Charkoudian is a Professor of Chemistry at Haverford College. Her research program leverages biochemical and biophysical approaches to investigate natural product biosynthesis, and how natural systems can be adapted to create molecules that better human health and the environment. Her lab has contributed to the field by developing ways to probe protein-protein and protein-substrate interactions relevant to biosynthesis at previously inaccessible spatial and temporal resolution. She has also developed bioinformatic workflows to unveil biosynthetic gene clusters that are ripe for bioprospecting new enzymes and molecules with beneficial properties. As there are no graduate students at Haverford College, this scholarly work has been conducted entirely in the context of independent undergraduate research projects and course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs).

Lou received her B.S. from Haverford College and Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry at Duke University under the mentorship of Professor Kathy Franz. She then joined Professor Chaitan Khosla’s lab at Stanford University as a postdoctoral scholar where initiated her biosynthetic investigations. Lou joined the faculty at Haverford College in 2013. Her work is funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, and she is the recipient of an NSF CAREER Award, Cottrell Scholars Award, Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, the Council for Undergraduate Research Innovative Mentor Award, and American Chemical Society Rising Star Award, amongst others. She has been elected to the Armenian Society of Fellows and currently serves on National Academy of Sciences US National Committee.

Lou is passionate about integrating original research opportunities for undergraduates into the classroom, exploring how interpersonal factors can be leveraged to build more inclusive and accessible STEM courses and training opportunities, and developing symbiotic community engagement activities.

Jon Clardy, Harvard Medical School, United States

Jon Clardy obtained a BS degree from Yale University, and a PhD from Harvard University – both in chemistry. He has held academic positions at Iowa State University, Cornell University, and most recently at Harvard Medical School’s Department of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology where he is the Christopher T. Walsh Professor. His research has focused on naturally occurring biologically active small molecules, their macromolecular targets, and their roles in biology and medicine. His current interests involve the molecular underpinnings of complex symbiotic systems involving both prokaryotes and eukaryotes, with a special focus on the gut microbiome; and chemical communications, with a current focus on chemotactic sensing in octopus. 

Fumitaka Kudo, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan

Fumitaka Kudo completed his PhD under supervision of the late Katsumi Kakinuma at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) in 1999. After postdoctoral studies with David Cane (Brown) and Craig Townsend (Johns Hopkins), he joined Tokyo Tech in 2003 where he is currently Associate Professor of Chemistry. His lab studies biosynthesis and enzyme reaction mechanisms for microbial natural products, especially polyketides and aminoglycosides

Marnix Medema, Wageningen University, Netherlands

Marnix Medema is a Professor of Bioinformatics at Wageningen University. His research group develops and applies algorithms for the (meta)genomic identification and functional prediction of microbial biosynthetic pathways, with the aim to unravel the chemical language of microbiomes. He built and co-coordinates the development of the antiSMASH software for identification of biosynthetic gene clusters and developed various additional algorithms to chart their diversity and identify their functional roles in microbiomes. Medema is recipient of NWO Rubicon, Veni and Vidi fellowships and an ERC Starting Grant, and has coordinated several international consortia studying bacterial specialized metabolites. He received several prizes for his work, including the NBIC Young Investigator Award. He is editorial board member of Natural Product Reports, mSystems and FEMS Microbes, and senior editor of ISME Communications. Also, he is member of the scientific advisory board of Hexagon Bio and co-founder of Design Pharmaceuticals. Since 2020, he also served as Van der Klaauw visiting professor of theoretical biology at Leiden University.

Anne Osbourn OBE FRS NAS, John Innes Centre, United Kingdom

Anne Osbourn is a Group Leader at the John Innes Centre working on plant natural products. Her discovery that in plant genomes the genes needed to make particular natural products are often organised in clusters like ‘beads on a string’ has greatly accelerated the discovery of new pathways and chemistries.  She has established a synthetic biology platform based on transient plant expression that provides rapid access to previously inaccessible compounds and analogs at gram scale. These two step changes open up new routes to combine genomics and synthetic biology to synthesize and access previously inaccessible natural products and analogs for medicinal, agricultural and industrial applications.  Anne was awarded the Novozymes 2023 Award in recognition of her scientific contributions.  She is also a poet, and has developed and co-ordinates the Science, Art and Writing (SAW) Initiative, a cross-curricular science education outreach programme. Her prize-winning poetry collection ‘Mock Orange’ was recently published.

Eriko Takano, University of Manchester, United Kingdom

Eriko Takano is Professor of Synthetic Biology in the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology, Department of Chemistry, School of Natural Sciences, Faculty of Science and Engineering, at the University of Manchester. She is one of three directors for the EPSRC/BBSRC-funded Manchester Synthetic Biology Research Centre, SYNBIOCHEM, and a visiting Professor at the Graduate School of Engineering, Osaka University, Japan. She has also been a World Research Hub Initiative (WRHI) Visiting Professor at the School of Life Science and Technology, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan. 

Eriko is internationally recognized as a pioneer in the synthetic biology of microbes for antibiotic production. She has been working in both industrial and academic Streptomyces research for 38 years. She studied pharmacy at Kitasato University, School of Pharmacy, Tokyo, Japan with Prof Satoshi Omura (2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine). After working as a researcher at the R&D facility of Meiji Seika Kaisha, Yokohama, Japan for four years, she moved to the John Innes Center, Norwich, UK. She obtained her PhD on the regulation of antibiotic production in Streptomyces coelicolor from the University of East Anglia in 1994, while working at the John Innes Center, where she continued working as a postdoc until 2002. Before her arrival in Manchester, she had been she had held positions as a Rosalind Franklin Fellow, Associate Professor at the University of Groningen, The Netherlands, and as Assistant Professor (C1) in the Department of Microbiology / Biotechnology, University of Tübingen, Germany.

Eriko’s research interests cover many facets of microbial synthetic biology: bioinformatics software development (e.g. antiSMASH); untargeted metabolomics for chassis engineering in Streptomyces; regulatory circuit engineering through signalling molecules; microbiome and spider silk engineering; biosynthetic gene pathway assembly and engineering; and systems biology of the metabolic switch from primary to secondary metabolism in Streptomyces coelicolor, the model organism of the most important group of industrial antibiotics producers. Eriko has published 134 peer-reviewed papers and 4 book chapters and holds 4 international patents. She has been elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology and Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry. She has served as an expert advisor for the EU, the UK and the Japanese government. 

  • Christian Hertweck Leibniz - Hans Knöll Institut, Germany
  • Tiangang Liu Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China
  • Stephen Wallace University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Abstract Submission
Directing Biosynthesis VII  will cover all aspects of microbial, plant and marine natural products research, including:
  • Genetics, enzymology and structural biology of natural product biosynthesis 
  • Genome and microbiome mining, microbiome engineering 
  • Synthetic biology and metabolic engineering
  • Chemical ecology and computational approaches for assessing natural products/enzyme functional diversity 
  • Industrial applications of natural products and biosynthetic enzymes

Oral abstracts - closed

Submit your abstract before 5 February 2024

Poster abstracts - closed

Submit your poster abstract before 22 April 2024

Posters are displayed throughout the meeting and are in person only. 

Additional information

Authors will be notified of the outcome of the review process within about 4 weeks of the submission deadline. The abstracts should be no longer than one A4 page in portrait layout. Please ensure you provide the details of the presenting author and indicate whether you are submitting an abstract for oral or poster presentation.

Planning your trip

We encourage delegates who are planning to attend events in person to arrange suitable travel and accommodation insurance, which should include cover for the postponement or cancellation of travel caused by regulations and guidelines relating to Covid-19. We also recommend considering flexible travel and accommodation booking options where possible.

In-person registration includes:
  • Attendance at all scientific sessions
  • Attendance at the poster sessions 
  • Refreshments throughout the meeting and lunch on all three days
  • Attendance at the poster drinks reception
  • Access to recordings of all scientific sessions post-event
In-person registration fees are as follows (subject to VAT at the prevailing rate):
Early bird Standard
Member £375 +VAT £425 +VAT
Non-member* £475 +VAT £525 +VAT
Student member £250 +VAT £300 +VAT
Student non-member* £285 +VAT £335 +VAT
Conference dinner £55 +VAT £55 +VAT
Accompanying person £80 +VAT £80 +VAT

Please note accommodation is not included in the in-person registration fee.

Virtual registration includes:
  • ​Live streaming of all scientific sessions 
  • Access to recordings of all scientific sessions post-event 

Virtual registration fees are as follows (subject to VAT at the prevailing rate):
Member £130 +VAT
Non member* £155 +VAT
Student member £70 +VAT
Student non member* £95 +VAT

*For non-member registrants, affiliate membership of the Royal Society of Chemistry until the end of 2024 is available, the affiliate membership application will be processed and commence once the registrant has attended the event.

Conference dinner

This will be held on Tuesday 2 July 2024 at the Edgbaston Park Hotel.  The cost to attend is £55 +VAT, you can book your place during registration.

Accompanying person

If you would like to bring a guest to the conference, this can be done during the registration process. There will be a charge of £80 +VAT which will include all lunches and refreshments. The fee does not include attendance at any scientific sessions or the conference dinner.


The Royal Society of Chemistry is keen to encourage and enable as many people as possible to attend our events, to benefit from the networking opportunities and the chance to hear talks from leaders in the field. If you would like to discuss accessibility, please contact us to discuss your requirements so that we can enable your attendance.
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Terms and Conditions for Events run by the Royal Society of Chemistry


Grants for carers

With our Grants for carers, you can apply for up to £1,200 per year to help you attend a chemistry-related meeting, conference or workshop or a professional development event. This money would be used to cover any additional costs you incur, paying for care that you usually provide.  Please visit the website for further information and eligibility criteria.

Accessibility grants

With our Accessibility grants, you can apply for up to £1,200 per year to help with the cost of specific support to attend a chemistry-related meeting, conference, workshop or professional development event. This support might be any form of equipment, service, or other personal expense associated with meeting your access needs.

Researcher Development and Travel Grants

If you are an RSC member and you are one of the following:
  • a PhD student actively undertaking a PhD course in the chemical sciences; 
  • a researcher in the chemical sciences (including post docs, research technicians and research assistants), working in academia, industry or any sector, within 10 years of leaving full time education (at the time of the application deadline).
You can apply for up to £500 to support your participation in this event.

Please note it is not necessary to have confirmation of abstract acceptance before applying for a Researcher Development and Travel Grant and we encourage you to apply as early as possible. 
Please see the website for up-to-date information on eligibility, how to apply and submission deadlines.
Researcher Development and Travel Grants can be applied for in addition to Grants for Carers and Assistance Grants.

Scientific programme

A PDF of the programme outline can be downloaded from the Downloads section at the top of the page.

Poster sessions

Monday 1 July at 17:10 (BST) - odd numbers
Tuesday 2 July at 13:50 (BST) - even numbers
In-person poster sessions will take place on the Monday and Tuesday at the above times. Posters can also be viewed during the lunch and refreshment breaks.

Whether or not you are presenting a poster, we encourage you to attend these sessions as they are your opportunity to discover and discuss new work, network with your peers, create new connections and collaborations, and (if you are a presenter) answer questions from the poster judges. 

Conference banquet

Tuesday 2 July at 19:30 (BST)
Edgbaston Park Hotel - a short walk from the conference venue

The cost is £55 plus VAT, please indicate if you would like to attend. Places are strictly limited.

Careers consultations

Slots will be available to book via the link in the Introduction section of this page.
A qualified career and professional development adviser for the Royal Society of Chemistry will be available for free one-to-one, confidential consultations on any aspect of your career.
Consultations are available for all meeting attendees on 2 and 3 July, and can be booked using the link on this page.
Your consultation will be for 15 minutes and could include:
  • Considering your next career step
  • CV checks
  • Job searching strategies

Talk on funding for ECR's

Wednesday 3 July at 9am - main lecture theatre
How to fund the transition to independent researcher
Finding someone to fund your ideas is crucial for all academics, and for postdoctoral researchers looking to make the jump to an independent research career this can be a major sticking point. This session will offer five essential tips for securing funding for your research.
Exhibitors & supporting organisations
A selection of sponsorship opportunities are available for companies who would like to promote their activities at Directing Biosynthesis VII.

If you would like more information about sponsoring the Directing biosynthesis VII, please contact the Commercial Sales Department at the Royal Society of Chemistry on

We would like to thank the following companies for thier support: Sponsorship Menu
University of Birmingham

Bramall Music Building, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 2TT, United Kingdom

Please see the links for directions to  the Edgbaston campus and a map.   

The University has it's own train station and is a 5 minute connection from Birmingham New Street or a 10 minute taxi ride.
Edgbaston Park Hotel is a short walk from the University Campus.  

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