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The Biochemical Society provides an extensive range of events, including scientific conferences, outreach activities, medal lectures and policy and education events.  

 

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Synthetic biology: design and engineering through understanding

22—26 August 2011

Keele University, UK




Meeting background
Synthetic Biology is the design and construction of new biological systems not found in that configuration in nature. The overarching aims of Synthetic Biology are to develop a firm basis for the design and engineering of new biological and biologically inspired molecules and collections of molecules (so-called systems), and to put these to useful purposes.  By applying engineering principles to biology, scientists hope to generate new molecular systems, and perhaps even new basic life forms, that are radically different from those that can be generated by more-traditional chemical synthesis and genetic engineering.

 

Despite much hype in the scientific and popular press, major obstacles towards these goals remain, however. The potential of Synthetic Biology will not be limited by the imagination of the researcher but rather by the suitability, quality, variability and compatibility of the 'parts' (genes, promoters, proteins and other biomolecular components) that they choose to engineer; the complex and often unwieldy circuitry of complex biological systems; the incompatibility of new parts with a new or existing biological contexts (so-called chassis); and the noise, variability and uncertainty, or emergent properties, inherent in biology.  Furthermore, the problems are not only scientific but also sociological, ethical and cultural: just because we can do this type of biological engineering, should we open this particular Pandora’s box?

 

The 70th Harden Conference will illustrate the potential of this emerging cross-disciplinary area; showcase current successes; and present the underpinning biology, engineering and systems understanding necessary to design synthetic biological systems reliably and predictably.
 

Organizers:
Robert Poole (University of Sheffield, United Kingdom)
John Ward (University College London, United Kingdom)
Dek Woolfson (University of Bristol, United Kingdom)
Monday 22 August 2011
11:00 - 14:00 Registration with lunch at 12:00

14:00 - 14:10 Welcome
Robert Poole, John Ward and Dek Woolfson

Setting the scene - synthetic biology by example

 

Chairs:
Robert Poole (University of Sheffield, United Kingdom)
John Ward (University College London, United Kingdom)
Dek Woolfson (University of Bristol, United Kingdom)
Monday 22 August 2011
14:10 - 14:50
Single strand DNA recombination
Donald Court (National Cancer Institute, U.S.A.)
14:50 - 15:30
Modular pathway design for novel polyketide antibiotics
Peter Leadlay (University of Cambridge, United Kingdom)
15:30 - 15:40
Discussion
15:40 - 16:20 Coffee/tea break

16:20 - 17:00
Controlled motion of synthetic molecular automata
Andrew Turberfield (University of Oxford, United Kingdom)
17:00 - 17:40
New Paradigms at the Proto-life/Synthetic Biology Interface
Stephen Mann (University of Bristol, United Kingdom)
17:40 - 17:50
Discussion
18:00 - 19:30 Drinks reception and poster session 1

19:30 - 21:30 Dinner

Enabling technologies for synthetic biology

 

Chair:
Ewan Main (Queen Mary, University of London, United Kingdom)
Tuesday 23 August 2011
09:00 - 09:40
Designing the integration of modified metabolism into an existing network
David Fell (Oxford Brookes University, United Kingdom)
09:40 - 10:00
A biocompatible artificial DNA linker that is read through by DNA polymerases and is functional in E. coli
Selected oral communication - Ali Tavassoli (University of Southampton, United Kingdom)
10:00 - 10:20
Towards renewable petrochemicals: engineering biology to convert waste into fuel
Selected oral communication - Damian Barnard (University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom)
10:20 - 11:00 Coffee/tea break

11:00 - 11:40
The domestication and breeding of small molecules
Pehr Harbury (Stanford University, U.S.A.)
11:40 - 12:00
A novel pathogen detection system based on filamentous viruses, hydrodynamics and polarized spectroscopy
Selected oral communication - Timothy Dafforn (University of Birmingham, United Kingdom)
12:00 - 14:00 Lunch

Standardisation, modularisation and systems

 

Chair:
Timothy Dafforn (University of Birmingham, United Kingdom)
Tuesday 23 August 2011
14:00 - 14:40
How a synthetic biology type of metabolic design can challenge existing metabolic dogmas?
Isabelle Meynial-Salles (National Institute for Applied Sciences, France)
14:40 - 15:00
Synthetic Morphology – engineering cells to make designer anatomy
Selected oral communication - Jamie Davies (University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom)
15:00 - 15:40 Coffee/tea break

15:40 - 16:20
Systematic design in synthetic biology
Richard Kitney (Imperial College London, United Kingdom)
16:20 - 17:00
Synthetic RNA controllers for programming cell fate and function
Christina Smolke (Stanford University, U.S.A.)
17:00 - 17:30
Discussion
17:30 - 19:30 Drinks reception and poster session 2

19:30 - 21:30 Dinner

Biomolecular design and self-assembly

 

Chair:
Phillip Wright (University of Sheffield, United Kingdom)
Wednesday 24 August 2011
09:00 - 09:40
Computational design of protein inhibitors of Spanish and avian influenza hemagglutinin
Sarel Fleishman (University of Washington, U.S.A.)
09:40 - 10:20
SNARE protein inspired model systems controlling targeted membrane fusion and self-assembly
Alexander Kros (Leiden University, The Netherlands)
10:20 - 11:00 Coffee/tea break

11:00 - 11:40
Designing biological systems for health and sustainability
Pamela Silver (Harvard Medical School, U.S.A)
11:40 - 12:00
Towards functional nanostructures: the self-assembly of designed linear repeat proteins
Selected oral communication - Ewan Main (Queen Mary, University of London, United Kingdom)
12:00 - 12:20
Synthetic activators of the s54 RNA polymerase control genes required for the nitrogen stress response in Escherichia coli
Selected oral communication - Jörg Schumacher (Imperial College London, United Kingdom)
12:30 - 14:00 Lunch

13:30 - 17:30 Free afternoon or excursion

18:00 - 19:30 Drinks reception

19:30 - 21:00 Dinner

Compartmentalisation and synthetic organelles

 

Chair:
Jane Calvert (University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom)
Thursday 25 August 2011
09:00 - 09:40
Assembling minimal life from the bottom up
Steen Rasmussen (University of Southern Denmark, Denmark)
09:40 - 10:00
DNA guided assembly line
Selected oral communication - Rok Gaber (Centre of Excellence EN-FIST, Slovenia)
10:00 - 10:40 Coffee/tea break

10:40 - 11:20
Andrew Griffiths (University of Strasbourg, France)
11:20 - 12:00
Building prototissues from aqueous droplets
Hagan Bayley (University of Oxford, United Kingdom)
12:00 - 14:00 Lunch

Young scientists

 

Chair:
Matthew Hicks (University of Warwick, United Kingdom)
Thursday 25 August 2011
14:00 - 14:20
From transistors to photocontrol: engineering proteins for new applications and approaches
Selected oral communication - D Dafydd Jones (Cardiff University, United Kingdom)
14:20 - 14:40
Peptide-based assemblies spanning fibres through to discrete objects from a simple, shared building block
Selected oral communication - Aimee Boyle (University of Bristol, united Kingdom)
14:40 - 15:00
Antibiotic-free plasmid selection by oriSELECT
Selected oral communication - Oriana Losito (University College London, United Kingdom)
15:00 - 15:40 Coffee/tea break

PE, ELSI and alternative perspectives

 

Chairs:
Dek Woolfson (University of Bristol, United Kingdom)
John Ward (University College London, United Kingdom)
Robert Poole (University of Sheffield, United Kingdom)
Thursday 25 August 2011
15:40 - 16:20
Design, engineering and understanding in synthetic biology: sociological reflections
Jane Calvert (University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom)
16:20 - 17:00
UK Public dialogue on synthetic biology
Brian Johnson (DAH Associates, United Kingdom)
17:00 - 17:20
Controlling molecular self-assembly by templating and molecular crowding
Selected oral communication - Nadeem Javid (University of Strathclyde, United Kingdom)
17:20 - 17:40
Creating cold-active esterases for cold water cleaning
Selected oral communication - Louise Horsfall (University of Glasgow, United Kingdom)
17:40 - 18:00 Closing discussion and organizer remarks

18:00 - 19:30 Drinks reception

19:30 Conference dinner

Friday 26 August 2011
09:00 Conference close and departure