Leopoldina Menü

Leopoldina Home

National Recommendations

Synthetic Biology (2009)

On the bases of the disciplines biology, molecular biology, chemistry, biotechnology, information technology and the engineering sciences presently emerges a new field of research known as synthetic biology. It has recently become a focus of attention, nationally as well as internationally.

 

(2009)

On the bases of the disciplines biology, molecular biology, chemistry, biotechnology, information technology and the engineering sciences presently emerges a new field of research known as synthetic biology. It has recently become a focus of attention, nationally as well as internationally.

The statement comprises 4 chapters and 40 pages, and takes a stand on selected research areas, current challenges as well as security and ethical questions raised by the path-breaking progress in synthetic biology.

There are two research approaches predominating synthetic biology: On the one hand, “bio bricks” are designed out of non-living material and synthesized to a living organism. On the other hand, it is attempted to extract components of natural organisms and to replace them in order to create artificial life forms. Both approaches are based on advanced methods of gene technology, especially the technical possibility to decode genetic information ever faster as well as to recompose it. On a medium-term, the possible applications of synthetic biology reach from medicine over environmental technologies to biotechnology.

The joint statement was elaborated by a group of experts and is based on the results of an international and interdisciplinary workshop held on February 27, 2009. The group of experts was led by the microbiologist Prof. Bärbel Friedrich from Berlin, formerly member of the Senate Commission of the German Research Foundation (DFG) on genetic research and vice-president of the Leopoldina. Scientists from many different research backgrounds such as biochemistry, molecular biology, genetics, microbiology, virology, chemistry, physics, engineering, as well as the humanities and social sciences, participated in the workshop.

Synthetic biology can essentially contribute to knowledge gains in basic research. Furthermore, on a medium-term, synthetic biology opens up possibilities for biotechnological applications, for example in the field of new and improved diagnostics, vaccines and medication or regarding the development of new biosensors, biomaterials or even biofuels. The research area raises, however, new questions, for example concerning legal aspects of biological security or the prevention of abuse, as well as concerning its economic utilization and its ethical aspects.

Against this background the German Research Foundation (DFG), acatech – National Academy of Science and Engineering and the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina pooled their strengths to elaborate a joint statement on the opportunities and risks of synthetic biology.

CONTACT

Leopoldina

Elmar König

Head of Department Science – Policy – Society, Head of Berlin Office

Phone 030 - 203 8997 - 460
Fax 030 - 203 8997 - 409
E-Mail elmar.koenig @leopoldina.org

RSS Feed

The RSS Feed keeps you informed about our latest publications:

RSS Feed publications