2021 – 2022

Biofaction organized an open call for four new Artist in Residence programmes. The call received 166 submissions from 43 countries. The quality of the proposals was outstanding which made the evaluation process very challenging.

The Biofaction team went over every submission carefully and created a shortlist. A jury panel was composed to review the shortlisted proposals and to make the final decision. The jury members were from the various hosting laboratories as well as two independent art curators, Claudia Schnugg and Jens Hauser. After a detailed evaluation process, four artists have been selected for the four residency places.

We warmly congratulate the four selected artists, Isabelle Andriessen, Lara Tabet, Karel Doing and Eduardo Miranda!



The residencies will start in Fall 2020 and will conclude in May 2021 (pending COVID-19). They will be held in two parts, and the exact dates will be set by taking both artist and laboratory schedules into account, and with an eye to the situation in each locale (e.g. travel, safety regulations etc.).The selected artists will actively engage with scientists working on one of three Synthetic Biology related projects that delve into fascinating areas: plant molecular farming, new-to-nature reactions, and cell factories.

The collaborating laboratories will make sure to provide space and personal interaction for mutual exchange with the artists. Biofaction is responsible for organising and curating the residencies. At the end of the residency programmes all works and/or their processes will be documented and compiled in form of a book, initiated by Biofaction and co-created together with the participating artists and scientists.

For each artist, a stipend of up to 7000 € is provided by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation projects MADONNA(2x), NEWCOTIANA and SINFONIA. It covers travel, local expenses, living allowance as well as (partial) support for the production and showcasing of the artistic prototype or finished work.


Our residency programmes seek:

  •  to explore arts or alternative cultural practices interacting with Synthetic Biology, particularly in regard to visions, challenges, philosophical, aesthetic, and ethical aspects;
  •  to add critical, unusual and comprehensive perspectives to Synthetic Biology, its societal ramifications and cultural aspects;
  •  to investigate the potential long-term changes Synthetic Biology might bring to society.







Karel Doing will be the resident at Prof. Julian Ma’s lab of the Institute for Infection and Immunity, St George’s, University of London. Karel Doing is an independent artist, filmmaker and researcher. His practice investigates the relationship between culture and nature by means of analogue and organic process, experiment and co-creation.





Possible Themes:

#plantmolecularfarming #plantbreedingtechniques. #crispr #pharming #health #biofactories #tobacco #agriculture #farmers

Tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) is a crop used to produce cigarettes. With overwhelming scientific evidence that smoking is harmful, even some major cigarette companies are now committed to end smoking. Tobacco plants can, however, also be used for other purposes that are clearly beneficial for health.

NEWCOTIANA explores these new possible use cases of tobacco plants. The project combines several New Plant Breeding Techniques (short: NPBTs) to produce high value substances in tobacco plants (Nicotiana tabacum andNicotiana benthamiana) by turning their leaves into efficient plant factories for medical, pharmaceutical, and cosmetic products. For this purpose, the project’s scientists are using technologies such as genome editing (CRISPR/Cas9), agroinfiltration, grafting and intragenesis. In this way, tobacco will be bred to produce vaccines, antibodies, and other health-promoting substances including anti-aging or anti-inflammatory compounds, thus potentially transferring the declining tobacco cultivation in EU into an innovative and sustainable agricultural sector.

For more information visit: https://newcotiana.org


Project in Numbers:

Countries Partners Budget Duration
7 19 7,2 M€ 4,5 years



Prof. Julian Ma, The Institute for Infection and Immunity – St George’s, University of London

By developing a better understanding of pathogen biology and human immune responses, the Institute for Infection and Immunity at St George’s worksto enhance diagnosis, prevention and treatment of infectious disease and conditions linked to immune system function.

From pioneering genomic studies of bacterial pathogens, to innovative developments of plant-derived biopharmaceuticals, the institute remains at the forefront of global infectious disease research.

For more information visit: https://www.sgul.ac.uk/about/our-institutes/infection-and-immunity




Isabelle Andriessen will be the visiting artist at the Prof. Lee Cronin’s lab of the School of Chemistry, University of Glasgow. She is a visual artist who creates ‘performative’ sculptures which physically transform along their own agency, metabolism and behaviour – over the course of one or several exhibitions.


Lara Tabet will be the resident at Prof. Victor de Lorenzo’s lab of the Molecular Environmental Microbiology Laboratory, Centro Nacional de Biotecnologia, CSIC Madrid.  She is a practicing medical doctor and visual artist. Her most recent work contemplates the relationship between physical objects and their digital twins.



Possible Themes:

#new-to-naturereactions #CO2capture #silicobiology #chemorobot
#engineeredbacteria #cyborgisedbacteria #syntheticbacteria #terraforming #sustainableproduction

Since the 19th century, industrial production has been operating mainly in one direction – from resources to products. These unsustainable processes generate tremendous amounts of waste which massively affect the environment, transforming the planet’s climate.

MADONNA explores new-to–nature (NTN) reactions to reverse this unsustainable system by integrating living matter into the process. These reactions can be carried out by living organisms, if new-to–nature (NTN) reactions can be included into their genome. MADONNA investigates the use of genetic engineering, directed evolution, chemo-robots, and complex computer models to help microorganisms incorporate these new abilities. This will allow them to turn industrial waste into a resource, reversing the process and closing the cycle of production.

For more information visit: http://madonnaproject.eu


Project in Numbers:

Countries Partners Budget Duration
6 8 3 M€ 4 years



Prof. Lee Cronin- School of Chemistry, University of Glasgow

Research in the Cronin Group at the University of Glasgow is motivated by the fascination for complex chemical systems, and the desire to construct complex functional molecular architectures that are not based on biologically derived building blocks.

The Cronin Group has four key missions: to explore the assembly of artificial life in the lab; the digitization of chemistry and self-assembly; to elucidate the fundamentals of information theory in chemistry; and to create a chemical computer.

For more information visit: http://www.chem.gla.ac.uk/cronin/


Prof. Victor de Lorenzo- The Molecular Environmental Microbiology Laboratory, Systems Biology Program, Centro Nacional de Biotecnologia, CSIC Madrid

The Molecular Environmental Microbiology Laboratory in Madrid has a formidable mission: the production of biological agents for biosensing, remediation and valorisation of chemical waste that is otherwise dumped into the Environment. To this end they use the Gram-negative soil bacterium and plant-colonizer Pseudomonas putida.

The research and scientific endeavour undertaken at the Lab expose fundamental and fascinating biological questions on the evolution of the metabolic network.

For more information visit:http://wwwuser.cnb.csic.es/~synbio/





Eduardo Miranda will be working at Dr. Pablo Ivan Nikel’s lab of the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability, Technical University of Denmark. He is a composer and AI scientist working at the crossroads of music and science. His interdisciplinary work and research contribute to the advancement of scientific knowledge on AI, Neuroscience and Bio-engineering.




Possible Themes:

#cellfactories #F-chemicals #Fluorine #biofluorination #toxicproduction #biologization #health #environment #sustainableproduction 

Materials containing the element fluorine (F) are extremely important and find applications in electronics, healthcare, automotive and wearables. Currently these materials are exclusively synthesized using chemical methods, leading to toxic production processes that have negative impacts on environment and people.

SINFONIA wants to change the way fluorine is produced by using Synthetic Biology. The project develops ways to generate novel fluorine production methods using renewable substrates. By engineering the metabolically versatile bacterium Pseudomonas putida to execute biofluorinations, the project’s scientists aim to design alternative sustainable bioprocesses for fluorine production.

For more information visit: https://www.sinfoniabiotec.eu


Project in Numbers:

Countries Partners Budget Duration
12 13 7,9 M€ 4 years



Dr. Pablo Ivan Nikel- The Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability, Technical University of Denmark

The Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability (DTU Biosustain) at the Technical University of Denmark aims at developing new knowledge and technologies to help facilitate the transformation from the existing oil-based chemical industry to a more sustainable bio-based society in which chemicals are produced biologically.

A combination of basic and applied research, a translational scope with focus on entrepreneurship and a modern workflow makes the Center unique in its approach to cell factory design and development.

For more information visit: https://www.biosustain.dtu.dk




These Artist in Residence programmes are financially supported by three research projects funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme: Newcotiana (grant agreement No. 760331), MADONNA (grant agreement No. 766975), and SinFonia (grant agreement No. 814418).