Portrait of Andrew Phillips

Andrew Phillips

Head of Biological Computation Group


I am currently developing methods and software for understanding and programming information processing in biological systems. One of my aims is to develop a language in which large models of biological systems can be programmed from simple components in a modular fashion. An ultimate goal is to be able to program and simulate a biological system on a computer, before implementing the final design inside a living organism.


Microsoft’s “Biological Computing” lab aims to fight diseases by reprogramming cells. Fast Company, 20 September 2016.
How Microsoft computer scientists and researchers are working to ‘solve‘ cancer. Microsoft, 20 September 2016.
DNA gets with the program. Chemistry World, 27 January 2015.
The revolution in biology is here, now. O’Reilly Radar, 9 December 2014.
Creating tools and algorithms that unlock the power of living cells. Microsoft Next, 4 December 2014.
DNA computing: Molecules reach consensus. Nature Nanotechnology, 4 October 2013.
Computing with soup. The Economist, 3 March 2012.
Computer-assisted genetic engineering. Technology Review, 3 August 2011.
Programming Cells. Microsoft Next, 22 July 2011.
Coming Soon to a Lab Near You: Drag-and-Drop Virtual Worlds. Science, 11 February 2011.
Coding 4 DNA. Microsoft Channel 9, 23 March 2010.


Programming DNA Circuits

Established: February 7, 2009

Molecular devices made of nucleic acids show great potential for applications ranging from bio-sensing to intelligent nanomedicine. They allow computation to be performed at the molecular scale, while also interfacing directly with the molecular components of living systems. They form…

Genetic Engineering of Living Cells

Established: February 7, 2009

Synthetic biology aims at producing novel biological systems to carry out some desired and well-defined functions. An ultimate dream is to design these systems at a high level of abstraction using engineering-based tools and programming languages, press a button, and…

Stochastic Pi Machine

Established: November 21, 2008

The Stochastic Pi Machine (SPiM) is a programming language for designing and simulating computer models of biological processes. The language is based on a mathematical formalism known as the pi-calculus, and the simulation algorithm is based on standard kinetic theory…


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Programming DNA


September 19, 2016


Professor Georg Seelig, Neil Dalchau, Andrew Phillips,


Andrew Phillips is head of the Biological Computation Group at Microsoft Research Cambridge, where he is currently developing languages and methods for analysing and programming biological systems. Andrew received a postgraduate degree in Computer Science from the University of Cambridge, under a scholarship from the Barbados government. He pursued a PhD in the Department of Computing at Imperial College London, where he developed methods for specifying and implementing secure mobile applications. He joined Microsoft Research Cambridge in 2005, to conduct research at the intersection of programming language theory and biological modelling. In 2011 he received a Technology Review TR35 award, which recognises the world’s leading innovators under the age of 35. His hobbies include snowboarding and kite-surfing, he is a black belt in Chinese kick-boxing and is a qualified ballroom dancing instructor.