Portrait of Neil Dalchau

Neil Dalchau



I am a Scientist in the Biological Computation research group at Microsoft Research Cambridge. I also hold an Honorary Senior Research Associate position at the Department of Chemistry, UCL.

I am interested in how to program computation and decision-making in biological systems. The applications of programmed biology are numerous, including the synthesis of medicines and industrial chemicals, through to the direct treatment of disease. My background is in applied mathematics, from which I apply methods to investigate and demonstrate novel approaches to programming biology. I work in the areas of Synthetic Biology, DNA Computing, and Immunology.

I studied Mathematics at the University of Oxford, UK (2001-2005), before becoming a biologist at the University of Cambridge. My PhD project was a collaboration between Alex Webb‘s group at the Department of Plant Sciences and Jorge Goncalves in the Control Group at the Department of Engineering. Following my PhD, I briefly held a research associate position in the Control Group, working with Glenn Vinnicombe on applications of stochastic control theory to gene networks. I came to Microsoft Research as a postdoc in 2009, during which I worked with Andrew Phillips on modelling immune systems and synthetic gene networks. I became a permanent member of the Biological Computation group in 2012.



Open Solving Library for ODEs

Established: July 15, 2014

OSLO is a .NET and Silverlight class library for the numerical solution of ordinary differential equations (ODEs). The library enables numerical integration to be performed in C#, F# and Silverlight applications. OSLO implements Runge-Kutta and back differentiation formulae (BDF) for non-stiff and stiff initial value problems. We wrote this library, in collaboration with Moscow State University, to provide open source access to established equation solving libraries in the .NET environment. Our future plans include the…

Modelling Immune System Processes

Established: June 1, 2009

Immunodominance lies at the heart of the immune system's ability to distinguish self from non-self. Understanding and possibly controlling the mechanisms that govern immunodominance will have profound consequences for the fight against several classes of diseases, including viral infections and cancer. We have been attempting to understand the computation performed by the immune system that gives rise to immunodominance, using techniques from computer science, applied mathematics and Bayesian statistics.    

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 structures that are stable inside cells, and their interactions can be precisely controlled by modifying their nucleotide sequences. However, designing correct and robust nucleic acid devices is a major challenge, due to high system complexity…

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 have the design translated to DNA sequences that can be synthesised and put to work in living cells. We introduce such a programming language, which allows logical interactions between potentially undetermined proteins and genes to…






Ten Simple Rules for Effective Computational Research
James Osborne, Miguel Bernabeu, Maria Bruna, Ben Calderhead, Jonathan Cooper, Neil Dalchau, Sara-Jane Dunn, Alexander Fletcher, Derek Groen, Bernhard Knapp, Gary Mirams, Joe Pitt-Francis, Biswa Sengupta, David Wright, Christian Yates, David Gavaghan, Stephen Emmott, Charlotte Deane, PLoS Computational Biology (Public Library of Science Computational Biology),, March 1, 2014, View abstract, Download PDF









Dr Andrew Phillips Link description

Programming DNA


September 19, 2016


Georg Seelig, Neil Dalchau, Andrew Phillips

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Faculty Summit 2016: Hot Topics


July 13, 2016


Lucy Vanderwende, Ran Gilad-Bachrach, Bryan Parno and Nikhil Swamy, Neil Dalchau


Micrososft Research


Open Solving Library for ODEs

January 2017

C# library that implements algorithms for the numerical solution of ordinary differential equations. Last published: January 14, 2013.

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