Michael Booth

Photo of Michael Booth

Dr Michael Booth

Royal Society University Research Fellow






Research Interests

Controlling nucleic acid technologies

DNA and RNA are central to life and form the basis for many therapeutic and experimental technologies, including gene delivery, editing and silencing, vaccines, several aspects of nanotechnology, aptamers and their applications, and cell-free protein expression. It would be advantageous to control the function of these technologies, as this would greatly expand their application and reduce, potentially toxic, off-target effects. The main focus of our research is the generation of controllable nucleic acids under the control of various stimuli, including temperature, magnetism, enzymes, chemical signals, and multiple wavelengths of light. These controllable nucleic acids will be optimized to function with molecular machines, drug delivery, sensing, and siRNA and CRISPR technologies. In the future, this universal chemical method for controlling DNA and RNA structure and function may form the basis of controllable therapeutics and new technologies for basic research.

Synthetic cells for drug delivery to natural cells

Considerable research goes into the development of exciting new molecular tools and drugs; however, a large stumbling block can be how to effectively deliver these molecules into targeted cells. We aim to utilize synthetic cells, lipid-bounded compartments containing a cell-free protein expression system inside them, for controllable and targeted drug delivery. These synthetic cells will be able to deliver a large variety of molecules, from small molecule drugs to large biomacromolecules. Through both direct and in-direct mechanisms, these synthetic cells will have the ability to deliver their contents into natural cells. Control of delivery will be achieved with the compartmentalisation of controllable DNA within these synthetic cells.


I studied for an MChem degree at the University of Southampton, which included research projects in the groups of Professor Martin Grossel, Professor Ali Tavassoli, and Professor George Attard. As part of my undergraduate degree I also undertook a placement at the Université de Montréal, Canada, under the supervision of Professor Stephen Michnick. I carried out my PhD at the University of Cambridge under the supervision of Professor Sir Shankar Balasubramanian, developing sequencing techniques for modified cytosine bases. I then worked in the group of Professor Hagan Bayley at the University of Oxford as a postdoctoral researcher and Junior Research Fellow at Merton College, Oxford. At Oxford, I developed light-activated DNA technology to control cell-free protein expression within synthetic cells.

I am currently a Royal Society University Research Fellow based in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Oxford. I have won a number of awards, including an EPSRC New Investigator Award (2021), Biochemical Society Early Career Research Award for Biotechnology (2019), SCG Innovation Fund Young Researcher Award (2018), Oxford Maths, Physical and Life Sciences Impact Awards: Early Career Researcher (2018), Oxford Innovation Society Fellowship: Research Fellow (2017), and Scopus Early Career Researcher UK Award: Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (2015).




Research group

Booth Group


Merton College