Research into life and life processes is highly important, not just for scientific progress but for politics and society. The domain of the life sciences comprises a broad spectrum of crucial subject matter, from basic biological research to applied biomedicine to controversial fields such as genetic engineering and synthetic biology.
Making algae that efficiently produces hydrogen from only sunlight, water and carbon dioxide is one of the most promising branches of research within the field of synthetic biology. The “Synthetic Biology” statement explains in detail the potential areas of application for this emerging branch of research, addressing the opportunities that it presents along with the problems and dangers that could arise.
Describing biological diversity is the core objective of taxonomic research. The loss of biodiversity is one of the most serious problems faced by modern society, not least because it often involves the loss of species that are still completely unknown to science. As a result of this, the function of such species in the ecosystem remains undiscovered and any potential pharmaceutical benefits they could have offered are lost forever. Despite being one of the oldest branches of biological research, taxonomy is now finding itself at a crucial juncture. The “Challenges for taxonomic research in the age of ‘-omics’-technologies” project aims to promote a useful combination of modern and classical methods of biological classification in research and training as well as the application of taxonomy further afield in disciplines such as medical microbiology.
The Leopoldina specially tailors the format of its discussions and information to its target audience, aiming to raise general awareness of socially and politically important scientific topics and to address the controversial issues surrounding research. The academy endeavours to keep the government and the public informed about new research areas such as synthetic biology as well as to provide clear information on controversial subjects such as the use of animal testing in biomedical research. This often extends to giving constructive, critical advice to policymakers.
Scientific Officer, Department Science - Policy - Society
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