Past Event

Positioning Synthetic Biology to Meet the Challenges of the 21st Century

Symposium/Convocation
June 1, 2012 - June 2, 2012

Location: National Academy of Sciences Building
2101 Constitution Ave NW Washington DC 20418

As a better understanding of the global synthetic biology landscape could lead to tremendous benefits, six academies -- the United Kingdom?s Royal Society (RS) and Royal Academy of Engineering (RAE), the United States? National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and National Academy of Engineering (NAE), and the Chinese Academy of Science (CAS) and Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE) organized a series of international symposia on the scientific, technical, and policy issues associated with synthetic biology.

The three symposia, attended by approximately 500 participants in total, brought together researchers from numerous disciplines--experts in law, property rights, and ethics; representatives from industry; policymakers; and members of the public--in the first collaboration among the United States, the U.K., and China on synthetic biology. Participants were asked to discuss synthetic biology in terms of its present and future value and to examine the scientific, engineering, societal, and policy implications of this emerging field.

The individual symposia, which were held in London, Shanghai, and Washington, DC, were each organized around a specific aspect of synthetic biology. 6 The first symposium, in London in April 2011, provided an overview of synthetic biology and developments in the past five years. Participants discussed estimates of what might be achieved in the next 5, 10, and 25 year periods, requirements and resources necessary for realizing value creation from synthetic biology, and conditions needed for an enabling environment. The focus of the second symposium, in Shanghai in October 2011, was the scientific and technical challenges that must be met to enable further development of the field. The final symposium, in Washington, DC in June 2012, focused on next-generation tools, platforms, and infrastructure necessary for continued progress in synthetic biology and the associated policy implications. Over the course of the three symposia, the collaborating institutions and participants gained a deeper perspective on each country's national and institutional aspirations and accomplishments in synthetic biology. Further, presenters and attendees had the opportunity to witness and share in a progression of knowledge and perspective amongst the participating countries from the initial to the final symposia.

Workshop Summaries Resulting from this Event

Positioning Synthetic Biology to Meet the Challenges of the 21st Century: Summary Report of a Six Academies Symposium Series (2013)

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, an... More >>