|Synthetic biology – unlike any research discipline that precedes it – has the potential to bypass the less predictable process of evolution to usher in a new and dynamic way of working with living systems. Ultimately, synthetic biologists hope to design and build engineered biological systems with capabilities that do not exist in natural systems – capabilities that may ultimately be used for applications in manufacturing, food production, and global health. Importantly, synthetic biology represents an area of science and engineering that raises technical, ethical, regulatory, security, biosafety, intellectual property, and other issues that will be resolved differently in different parts of the world. As a better understanding of the global synthetic biology landscape could lead to tremendous benefits, six academies – the United Kingdom’s Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering, the United States’ National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Engineering, and the Chinese Academy of Science and Chinese Academy of Engineering – organized a series of international symposia on the scientific, technical, and policy issues associated with synthetic biology. Positioning Synthetic Biology to Meet the Challenges of the 21st Century: Summary Report of a Six Academies Symposium Series summarizes the symposia proceedings.|
Under the auspices of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), CSTL and the Board on Life Sciences (BLS) organized, in conjunction with the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), Royal Society (RS), Royal Academy of Engineering (RAE), Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE), three symposia on synthetic biology in 2011-2012. The symposia built on a successful 2009 collaboration between the Royal Society, NAS/NAE, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) when these organizations partnered to sponsor an international symposium in Washington, D.C. entitled, Opportunities and Challenges in the Emerging Field of Synthetic Biology (http://sites.nationalacademies.org/PGA/stl/PGA_050738). Following from that meeting, the NAS/NAE and the RS reached an agreement with the RAE and the CAS and CAE to hold three symposia – one in the U.K., one in China, and one in the U.S. – during 2011-2012.
The first symposium, in the U.K., provided an overview of synthetic biology and developments in the past 5 years; an estimate of what might be achieved in the next 5, 10, and 25 year periods; the requirements and resources necessary for realizing value creation from synthetic biology; and the necessary conditions for an enabling environment. The focus of the symposium in China was the scientific and technical challenges that must be met to enable further development of the field. The U.S. symposium focused on next-generation tools, platforms, and infrastructure necessary for continued progress in synthetic biology, and the associated policy implications.
June 12-13, 2012
October 12-14, 2011
April 13-14, 2011
The Planning Committee on Six Party Symposia on Synthetic Biology released its report, Positioning Synthetic Biology to Meet the Challenges of the 21st Century: Summary of a Six Academies Symposium Series, on August 7, 2013.
Drew Endy (Chair)
Assistant Professor, Bioengineering
The BioBricks Foundation
Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and Associate Professor of Biology, Bioengineering, and Applied Physics
California Institute of Technology
Global Helix LLC
Counsel and Senior Partner (Ret.)
Arnold & Porter, LLP
Professor of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology
University of California, San Francisco
Professor of Systems Biology
Harvard Medical School
This project was sponsored by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.
Anne-Marie Mazza, Ph.D.
Director, Committee on Science, Technology, and Law
Jo Husbands, Ph.D.
Scholar/Senior Project Director, Board on Life Sciences
Director, Program Office
National Academy of Engineering
Steven Kendall, Ph.D.
Program Officer, Committee on Science, Technology, and Law