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Synthetic Biology

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What is Synthetic Biology?

Synthetic Biology (SynBio): the design and construction of biological parts, devices, and organisms, usually based on DNA-encoded componentry; and their application for useful purposes.

It is becoming widely recognised that SynBio is the next transformative technology. SynBio is an emerging interdisciplinary field representing the convergence of diverse domains, such as biotechnology, evolutionary biology, molecular biology, systems biology, physics, chemistry, computer engineering and informatics, electrical engineering, and genetic engineering, among others.

SynBio involves modeling, writing, and printing DNA code for the design and fabrication of new biological parts, devices, systems, and machines, as well as the re-design of existing, natural biological systems.

SynBio has potential applications in areas as diverse as manufacturing, human health, agriculture and protecting ecosystems. Because of SynBio’s transformative nature, Australia must develop a strong SynBio ‘Research Ecosystem’ or it will lose competitiveness in almost every industry, including traditional areas such as agriculture.

Synthetic Biology Future Science Platform

CSIRO is investing $13 million in the creation of a Synthetic Biology Future Science Platform (SynBio FSP), one of six new FSPs which will underpin innovation in health and biology, resources, agriculture and manufacturing, and have the potential to support the reinvention and creation of new industries and new jobs for Australia. Not only will the FSPs invest in research and delivery of solutions, they’re also an investment in the next crop of researchers.

The SynBio FSP is built on a philosophy of responsible development of synthetic biology technology, striving for ethical outcomes and working within the bounds of social acceptance. This is embedded in the SynBio FSP through the Maximising Impact Science Domain, one of four Science Domains in the FSP. Our mission is to develop capacity in synthetic biology within CSIRO and across Australia, in a collaborative and transparent manner.

The SynBio FSP aims to:

  1. Build the foundational capabilities to advance SynBio research, including significant investment in social licence to operate
  2. Drive national coordination by making these foundational capabilities widely available to the broad research community, governments, and industry for the development of novel industrial products, pharma, biocontrol agents, and strategies for building ecosystem resilience to environmental change, and
  3. Build strong partnerships, collaborations, and connections across the innovation sector to develop these novel products and applications responsibly.

The SynBio FSP will work with its partner organisations, including Synthetic Biology Australasia, to help build a collaborative Australia-wide community of practice in SynBio.

Synthetic Biology Future Science Fellowships

The CSIRO Synthetic Biology Future Science Fellowships scheme is funded through the SynBio FSP. The scheme aims to attract outstanding national and international early-career post-doctoral researchers (equivalent to Academic Levels A and B, or in exceptional circumstances, Level C) to expand Australian research capacity in SynBio. A key element of the SynBio FSP is establishment of a collaborative community of practice extending across CSIRO and Australia more broadly; and ideally linking into international efforts in the field.

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