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Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center

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Synberc’s research program focuses on the development of:

PARTS - The most basic unit in the design of synthetic biological systems

DEVICES - Engineered genetic objects that are designed to function under specified conditions, and that can be created by combining parts

CHASSIS - Host cells that are designed to run a genetic program.

PRACTICES – Policies, procedures and ways of thinking about ethical, legal and social issues, as well as safety and security.

Synberc’s research program was established to develop the foundational understanding and technologies that will allow us to routinely build large numbers of useful biological systems from standard interchangeable parts. Our specific goals are to:

  • Develop a conceptual framework for designing small biological components, or parts, that can be assembled into devices that will perform a well-characterized function under specified conditions;
  • Develop chassis (assembly substrate and power supply) to host the engineered devices and to assemble several devices as “systems” that accomplish a larger objective or goal (i.e., testbeds); 
  • Develop a set of standards for the interactions of the parts and devices so that the devices can be built more readily and reproducibly (enabling composition);
  • Offer the parts, devices, and chassis as open source to other researchers and companies involved in Synberc; and
  • Link these engineering goals within a comprehensive practices framework.

In addition to the thrusts and testbeds highlighted above, Synberc has developed a core of cross-cutting research that provides foundational tools and technologies needed to advance synthetic biology internally and externally. These projects include automated DNA construction, models and design, safety and security, and registries and repositories.