Synthetic biology is the design and construction of new biological parts, devices, and systems, and the re-design of existing, natural biological systems for useful purposes. It combines biology and engineering with a focus on Biotechnology.
Synthetic biologists focus on finding how life works (the origin of life) or how to use it to benefit society, including the approach of biology by inserting man-made DNA into a living cell and the approach of chemistry by working on gene synthesis as an extension of synthetic chemistry.
The website syntheticbiology.org, originally started by a group of students, faculty and staff from MIT and Harvard, now regroups all individuals, groups and labs from various institutions who are committed to engineering biology in an open and ethical manner. The site is hosted on OpenWetWare and can be edited by all members of the Synthetic Biology community.
An exciting synthetic biology project was recently funded succesfully on Kickstarter : Glowing Plants: Natural Lighting with no Electricity. A few days ago, without explanation, Kickstarter quietly altered its guidelines for project creators, introducing a new term that bans creators from giving away genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) as rewards to their online backers (see the post Kickstarter bans project creators from giving away genetically-modified organisms edited by Duncan Geere at The Verge website).
More informations about synthetic biology are available at the following links :
- Synthetic Biology Project
- The Synthetic Biology Institute at UC Berkeley (SBI)
- The Synthetic Biology Center at MIT
- International Association Synthetic Biology
- Leukippos : Synthetic Biology Lab in the Cloud