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Science Domains

Four broad science domains have been identified as critical for the FSP:

Integrative Biological Modelling

Predictive Systems modelling of biological systems is essential for the successful development of SynBio products and for the deployment of many SynBio solutions. Such modelling could include:

  • Molecular modelling of biomolecules including genetic circuits, proteins and genome architecture (particularly in response to the introduction of new genetic elements)
  • Modelling at an organismal level, including predictive metabolic and phenotypic modelling
  • Population modelling: for example, modelling the proliferation of gene drives through a population
  • Ecosystem modelling to understand the risks and outcomes of introducing SynBio interventions in the environment
  • Integration of modelling at different levels of organisation.

Engineering Novel Biological Components

Biology has provided a vast array of functional components that can be integrated in to new SynBio circuits, devices etc. However, novel functionality may be required for some applications; for example, tuneable genetic logic gates, novel organic synthetic chemistry steps, or tissue/life-stage specific genetic switches. Such novel biological components could include:

  • New genetic switches, circuits and logic gates that control spatial, temporal, tissue-specific and other conditional gene expression
  • Novel functional proteins, including sensors, enzymes and structural proteins
  • Non-model chassis organisms, including bacteria, fungi, yeast, plants, and animals as well as eukaryotic organelles and endosymbionts.

Capabilities that support the engineering/evolving/discovery of new biological components are in scope for SynBio FSP projects.

Assembling Novel Biosystems

Novel Biosystems are engineered biological systems, including living organisms, ecosystems and complex in vitro systems and devices. Capability that contributes to this area includes:

  • Gene delivery and genome editing, particularly in non-model organisms
  • Physiological, genomic and genetic understanding of target organisms
  • Genetic, genomic, transcriptomic, metabolomics and phenomic tools and systems approaches for assessing outcomes of engineering (and feedback to modelling approaches).

Priority biosystems may be targeted; where a clear and pressing need can be articulated, but where clearly identified technology gaps are present.

Maximising Impact

An understanding of social and environmental impacts is critical to the successful deployment of appropriate and socially acceptable SynBio solutions. Capability that contributes to this area includes:

  • Social licence to operate
  • Environmental risk assessment
  • General technology risk assessment
  • Ethical considerations
  • Governance, regulatory issues, and legal framework/considerations.