Synthetic Biology 101

What is Synthetic Biology?

Roughly, synthetic biology is the discipline that engineers cell and cell free systems to behave and produce products in new ways. Synthetic Biology sounds a lot like other terms, and definitions are fuzzy, but in general:

  • Genetic engineering: Making changes to an organismís unit of inheritance.
  • Bioengineering: The modification, control, and external interfacing of existing biological systems
  • Synthetic biology: The development of new biological systems.
As an industry, synthetic biology is expected to grow about 25% each year, making it a good option if one is considering industry in the future.

The iGEM 2023 Judging Handbook highlights these projects as excellent examples of synthetic biology projects, presented in a fairly accessible way.

A few interesting (but certainly not all inclusive) projects outside the iGEM space include

What should I review to start my SynBio career?

If youíre looking to get ahead in skills valuable for a synthetic biologist before jumping in, consider refreshing your understanding on the following:

  • Molecular Biology Fundamentals: When youíre genetically engineering new systems, a lot of cloning is going to be necessary. Skills like PCR, cloning techniques, transformation, minipreping, and DNA sequencing are employed regularly.
  • Computer Programming: Understanding biology computationally is such an important concept that there is an entirely separate field of computational biology. This understanding is critical in predicting how engineered biological systems may behave. Itís a good idea to review your Python and R skills if you have any programming background. If youíre in iGEM, HTML, CSS, and other web development skills are valuable in the later stages of the season when developing the teamís wiki.
  • The Design-Build-Test-Learn Cycle: Part of the synthetic biology ethos is the application of engineering principles to building your biological systems. The Design-Build-Test-Learn cycle clearly lays out the idea of prototype iteration.
  • Synthetic Biology Ethics: There are a lot of ethical considerations in synthetic biology. Two major ones are its environmental impact and biosecurity. When designing and executing your project, its important to consider its outside impact and ways to mitigate unintended outcomes.
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Topic revision: r1 - 2023-10-05 - 18:10:59 - Main.CameronRoots
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