Open meeting on synthetic biology with Drew Endy


Bilde-EndyCan synthetic biology help to make biotechnology more innovative, open and sustainable? Or are the possible risks greater than the benefits?

Tromsø 28. August kl. 10–11.15, aud. 6, medisin- og helsefagbygget, UiT

Organizer: Nordisk komité for bioetikk, Nordforsk, Bioteknologirådet and GenØk

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Synthetic biology is about making living organisms not found in nature today, designed to perform specific tasks. In 2010, it was announced that scientists had succeeded in creating the world’s first living synthetic cell.

The potential for synthetic biology is huge and includes carbon-neutral biofuels and new medications and therapies in health care. At the same time there is a risk of abuse, especially through biological terrorism. Moreover, there is much we do not know about the long term effects of manipulating the biology in this way.

Drew Endy from renowned Stanford University is an internationally leading researcher and social commentator in synthetic biology. He is a supporter of transparency and exchange of knowledge and has criticized the current system for patenting biological material. Endy executive director BioBricks Foundation and was also involved in starting iGEM, an international competition in synthetic biology for students and entrepreneurs. American Esquire Magazine included Endy on its list of the 21st century’s most influential people.

– During most of the 20th century and earlier were natural, living systems understood only through observation and disassembly. In the past engineers have broken the boundaries of a first genetic modification with a goal of making living matter fully programmable. I believe that we now have a crucial opportunity to reshape our civilization to work in full partnership with nature, says Endy.

In the lecture in Tromsø Endy will present recent developments in synthetic biology and discuss future opportunities and issues that are still unanswered.

The lecture in Tromsø is part of the conference “Synthetic Biology: Bioethics and Biosafety”, organized by Nordisk komité for bioetikk, Nordforsk, Bioteknologirådet og GenØk.

Here is a summary of the conference: