Registration Check-in and Badge Pick-Up
Systematic Engineering Meets Biological Complexity – Part I
There is a need for (i) building the intellectual and physical infrastructure to rapidly design and assemble synthetic genetic systems composed of hundreds of parts, (ii) re-use and sharing of community tools, and (iii) computer aided design as a core link between synthetic biology design tools and synthesis/verification and debugging. Recently efforts accelerate design-build-test loops by systematizing workflows is leading to faster and better designs and unexpected advances, but how far can we push our ability to realize complexity in synthetic biology? In this session, we will explore efforts to realize complexity in synthetic biology and compare this to biological complexity as it exists in the natural world to serve as inspiration for what we can imagine building.
- Adam Arkin, University of California, Berkeley
Systematic Engineering Meets Biological Complexity – Part II
- Adam Arkin, University of California, Berkeley
- Christopher Voigt, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- Lotte Søgaard-Andersen, Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology
- Jason Chin, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology
- Iris Salecker, MRC National Institute for Medical Research
- Richard Murray, Caltech
- Jane Calvert, University of Edinburgh
- Sven Panke, ETH Zürich
Design and Synthetic Biology: Connecting People and Technologies
If synthetic biology is going to become a design-led discipline, how will these designs connect to people and the world? This session explores the idea of design at the human scale; at the level of decisions in the synthetic biology research laboratory, and in terms of the everyday products and innovations that people might use, interact with, and consume. It also considers the social and political dimensions of design, and asks how synthetic biology designs might become embedded in broader networks of people and things. Designs always embody values, and this raises challenging questions such as: what counts as ‘good design’ in synthetic biology? Who decides? And what ends should synthetic biology designs be directed towards? (Profitability? Democracy? Sustainability?)
- Fiona Raby, Royal College of Art, London
Engineering Biology for New Materials
Materials have a transformative impact on all aspects of our lives. To maintain and improve the current quality of living, sustainable alternatives to traditional synthesis and manufacturing practices must be found. Advances in biomanufacturing are leading to the production of genetically encoded materials with precisely-defined, structurally modular structures across multiple length scales. Advances in bio-responsive nanomaterials are of growing importance with potential applications including drug delivery, diagnostics and tissue engineering. Each of these, along with BioCouture, suggest an innovative and exciting role for synthetic biology in the synthesis and construction of materials that have been impractical—if not impossible—to produce by other means.
- Mike Jewett, Northwestern University
Applications for Human Health
Technological interventions to improve human health have a long history, and are responsible for improvements in health, longevity, and quality of life. Synthetic biology offers the ability to go beyond therapeutic interventions and to fundamentally alter the way in which the body maintains a healthy state and responds to disease. The speakers in this session will explore how design of living systems can impact human health and if synthetic biology represents a step change in the way we diagnose and treat disease.
- Leonard Katz, Synberc
Securing funding is a critical component of the research process. Being a successful fundraiser means knowing your funding entities and the program officers who manage grant-making opportunities. Join us for a lunchtime panel featuring program officers from funding organizations from around the world who currently have grant-making programs focused on synthetic biology. They will describe their specific funding interests and the process for applying for support. You will have an opportunity to ask them direct questions.
- Holly Million, BioBricks Foundation
- Chris Fall, Office of Naval Research, Global
- Annette Kremser, Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH, Germany and ERASynBio
- Luke Davis, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), United Kingdom
- Susanne von Bodman, National Science Foundation, United States
- Rowan McKibbin, Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), United Kingdom
- Kim Turk Križanec, Ministry of Education, Science and Sport of the Republic of Slovenia
Realising the Value of Modelling
Through in silico simulations and mathematical analysis, modelling enables us to (i) advance our understanding of fundamental biological features and mechanisms and (ii) learn about fundamental design principles and constraints that need to be accounted for when engineering biology. This session will investigate how modelling approaches can be effectively implemented in the synthetic biology design process to predict and inform the biological engineer. It will also explore the greater worth of modelling as a tool, and how its use elsewhere has had major impacts on society.
The confluence of our ability to (i) read, write, and edit DNA, (ii) accelerate nucleic acid and protein evolution, and (iii) enable integrated biological function is changing the landscape of our ability to engineer biological systems. Indeed, we are now defining a set of meaningful design principles that guide the construction and evolution of biological systems and genomically recoded organisms. Synergistic advances across in vivo and in vitro systems are providing new opportunities for technological breakthroughs.
Training Future Synthetic Biologists
There are now a number of established and successful pedagogical initiatives in synthetic biology (at both undergraduate and graduate levels), and several new programmes under development around the world. This session will involve short provocations from community leaders to reflect on their collective experiences in teaching and training. It will centre around an open discussion of the opportunities, challenges and needs in training an upcoming generation of synthetic biologists. What skills are most important for young synthetic biologists to develop? What stand out as some of the most challenging training issues (conceptual, practical, institutional, contextual), and how can the community best respond to these?
Making and Using Standards
Effective and scalable engineering is intrinsically linked to standardisation, whether that is standardisation of parts, of data, measurements and processes, or in standardising product quality. Taking synthetic biology to the next level will require a variety of community efforts to develop and adhere to workable standards. This session will discuss the importance of and the development of new standards in synthetic biology, such as those for accurate measurement and flexible data exchange, for reusable DNA parts, for promoting safety and responsibility, and for ensuring quality control.
Assessing Risk and Managing Biocontainment
Synthetic biology involves the engineering of living microorganisms using synthetic genetic constructs. In some applications, the engineered organisms must be released into the natural environment to perform their tasks. This raises concerns about biocontainment and risk that need to be actively addressed. How should risk assessment be carried out for synthetic biology? Is it possible to develop mechanisms to effectively mitigate risks, while acknowledging uncertainty? What are the potential consequences of our ability to synthesize genes at increasing scale and rate? In this session, we will explore key issues related to biocontainment, biosafety, risk assessment and biosecurity, and recent efforts and developments in addressing them.
- Michele Garfinkel, European Molecular Biology Organization
Translating Technology, Transcending Industrialisation
Synthetic biology has the potential to impact many industrial sectors, including healthcare, manufacturing, energy, and agriculture, and could create new products and markets. How will the ability to design biology transform these industries, how will it disrupt them, and how can innovations in the lab be translated to the commercial sphere most effectively? Does synthetic biology present novel translation challenges compared to other technology fields, or can we use existing models of public and private support? This session will consider these issues with voices from academia, industry, and government.
- Richard Kitney, Imperial College London
New Directions for Energy and Sustainability
The depletion of fossil fuel reserves, global warming, energy security and the need for clean, cheap fuels has made developing sources of renewable energy a global research priority. The sun provides the most abundant energy source on the planet, and could meet our energy demands many times over, but the challenge of solar energy is its conversion into a usable form. Synthetic biology tools are being developed to convert renewable resources into molecules we can use as fuels, pharmaceuticals, solvents, materials and a vast array of specialty chemicals. There is also growing interest in using synthetic biology to help combat seemingly intractable problems in tropical crop diseases and agricultural sustainability.
- Eleonore Pauwels
CAD and EDA: Tools To Enable Design
Computer Assisted Design (CAD) is instrumental in any engineering field, and synthetic biology as a new engineering discipline is no exception. CAD tools can effectively constrain the design space of biological systems, optimize designs using sophisticated algorithms, and provide simulation of designed systems before synthesis. This session brings together computational tools in the field, which spans the whole spectrum from biological parts to genetic circuits, all the way up to genomes.
Growing Synthetic Biology in Plants
In the face of growing food insecurity, sustainable intensification of agriculture through biotechnology is an attractive prospect. To date, seed improvement has for the most part relied on traditional breeding, and biotechnology-based approaches have tended to focus on single-gene input traits. The application of synthetic biology provides us with opportunities to move beyond this, using new DNA assembly technologies and a more engineering-based approach. Target traits include: disease and pest resistance; water and nutrient use efficiency; drought, flood, salt and heat tolerance; more efficient and nutritious plants; and better chemical synthesis. New policy processes and types of entrepreneurship are also needed, so that the needs and values of farmers and other key stakeholders can be better incorporated into the innovation process.
- Chueh Loo Poh, Nanyang Technological University
Responsible Research and Innovation
The idea of “responsible research and innovation” has taken off in European funding and policy circles recently, and scientists and engineers are increasingly being encouraged to think of their work in these terms. But what does it mean to innovate responsibly, and what implications might this have for the practice of synthetic biology? This session will explore the idea of “responsibility” from several different angles, including biosecurity and conservation. It will ask what kind of responsibility synthetic biology has to the future, and how this young and growing field can best work towards the public good.
Components for Advanced Biological Engineering
Measuring and building are fundamental to all successful engineering endeavours. Synthetic biology provides an engineering approach and new technologies e.g. DNA synthesis and DNA assembly tools for constructing novel biological systems. Effective engineering requires a system of measurements that are focused on delivering the specific types of information needed for design of functional systems. In order to be successful synthetic biology needs an appropriate system of measurements that can inform and support the needs of biological circuit designers.
Towards Global Health
Securing the health of our future generations requires that we develop new solutions to global grand challenges. With so many of these challenges directly related to biology, how can we best apply our expertise in engineering biology for global good, and what are the realities of trying to apply research to complex real-world problems? This session will hear from leaders in engineering for global health and those who have now realised the goal of delivering synthetic artemisinin. We will also discuss the international implications and socio-economic issues involved in tackling grand challenges, and ask how synthetic biology can co-operate with other disciplines to provide biological solutions towards global health problems.
- Paul Freemont, Imperial College London