Ipsita Roy, Professor in Microbial Biotechnology, delivered a talk at the Tate Modern on the use of bacteria derived plastics for medical applications.

The talk, entitled ‘A bug’s life, how plastics producing bacteria can save your life!’, was part of the Tate Exchange series, organised at the Tate Modern, enabling people to collaborate, test ideas and discover new perspectives on life, through art. 

Professor Roy explained how bacteria, mainly associated with infections, could actually be used as tiny factories for the production of useful bio-products including plastics.

She described various modes of Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs), polyesters produced by microorganisms, production and their application in hard and soft tissue engineering, biodegradable stent production, peripheral nerve conduit production, cardiac patch development, wound healing, antimicrobial polymer development and controlled drug delivery applications.

Professor Roy’s research has brought PHAs to the forefront of biomedical research and has the potential to bring state of art PHA-based medical devices, tissue/organ replacements and controlled delivery of drugs in to the clinical world within the near future.


Speaking about her talk and her research, Professor Roy said: “Bacteria derived Bioplastics have huge potential in a wide range of applications including environmentally friendly plastics and for medical applications. It has been an incredible journey to work on the varied biomedical products using these highly biocompatible polymers.

“The audience at the Tate Modern event were absolutely fascinated by the talk. To quote one of the organisers, they wrote ‘Your research is undoubtedly exciting and you are able to captivate any audience with your amazing presence, leaving such an impression that many continued to ask about you and your work after you were gone. I was left buzzing with excitement after a long week, my energies and inspiration renewed’.”

Expert in microbial biotechnology, natural biomaterials and their biomedical applications, Professor Ipsita Roy was awarded the prestigious Inlaks Scholarship and the Overseas Research Students Award to study for her Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge, UK. During her time at Cambridge she was awarded the Churchill College Scholarship, the Lundgren Scholarship, Leche Trust Scholarship and the Cambridge University Philosophical Society Fellowship Award.

She has published over 100 papers in high ‘Impact Factor’ journals such as Biomaterials, Bio-macromolecules, Journal of Royal Society Interface, Acta Biomaterialia, and has presented her work at numerous international conferences. She currently leads the Applied Biotechnology Research Group in the Faculty of Science and Technology at the University of Westminster.

Find out more about the Applied Biotechnology Research Group at the University of Westminster.

Find out more about the Applied Biotechnology MSc course offered at the University of Westminster.

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