iGEM International Genetically Engineered Machines

About Synthetic Biology

Synthetic biology is a new area of biological research that designs and builds novel biological systems.  It includes the design and construction of new biological parts, devices, and systems, and the re-design of existing natural biological system for better application. Over the last century, advances in the field of biology have transformed life sciences. Synthetic biology, a new branch of biology, studies how to build artificial biological systems for engineering applications, using many of the same strategies that electrical engineers use to make computer chips. Drawing upon powerful techniques for the rapid assembly of DNA, synthetic biologists focus on taking apart natural biological systems, simplifying them, and using them as parts of a synthetic, unnatural, engineered biological system. We are interested in this field of study because synthesis offers opportunities to understanding biology that observation and analysis do not, as well as construction of functional biological machines and metabolic pathways for practical applications. 

The goal of synthetic biology is to modify the behavior of organisms and engineer them to perform new tasks. The potential applications of this new field include creating bioengineered microorganisms that can produce pharmaceuticals, break down chemical waste, repair damaged genes, and produce biofuel and electricity. The essence of synthetic biology is that techniques used to build non-biological systems in the engineering and computational sciences could be used to build novel synthetic biological systems that solve practical problems. It incorporates elements from many different disciplines including chemistry, biology, mathematics, physics, engineering, and computer science.

To learn more about synthetic biology and get notified about events in synthetic biology at Stanford University, join the mailing list at syntheticbio@lists.stanford.edu.





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