EMERGENCE: Coordination puts synthetic biology on firm footing

Duration: 36 months

Coordinator: Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich (Switzerland)

Website: www.emergence.ethz.ch

Contact Person:

Prof. Sven Panke
ETH Zürich
Institute of Process Engineering
Universitätsstrasse 6 (CNB E122.1)
8092 Zürich, Switzerland
e-mail: panke[at]ipe.mavt.ethz.ch
tel:+41 44 632 04 13
fax:+41 44 632 19 93


  • Centro Nacional de Biotecnologia (Spain)
  • Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Oncológicas (Spain)
  • Centre for Genomic Regulation (Spain)
  • Helmholtz Zentrum für Infektionsforschung (Germany)
  • Royal DSM (The Netherlands)
  • University of Cambridge (United Kingdom)
  • Danish Technical University (Denmark)
  • Geneart AG (Germany)
  • Ecole Polytechnique (France)

Project Description

Synthetic Biology has emerged as a very recent but highly promising approach to re-organizing the scientific biological endeavour by integrating central elements of engineering design. By applying the tool box of engineering disciplines such as electrical or mechanical engineering and computer sciences, including the vigorous application of modelling techniques and organizing the development of novel biological systems along a hierarchical systems architecture with defined and standardized interfaces, Synthetic Biology aims at no less than revolutionizing the way bioengineering is done today. If successful, Synthetic Biology will transform bioengineering into a highly successful and sustainable life science industry.
However, such an endeavour requires urgently a coordination effort from the very beginning in order to point the transitions into the most promising directions. EMERGENCE intends to establish this coordination on several levels: [i] it will include the majority of European scientists and engineers currently active in the field and reach out to include crucial developments in the USA and Asia via a communication platform; [ii] it will establish the intellectual foundation for Synthetic Biology by recruiting the required competence from neighbouring engineering disciplines; [iii] it will illustrate the power of the Synthetic Biology approach to bioengineering with a demonstrator for a dedicated IT infrastructure; [iv] it will map the most promising approaches to standardizations of procedures and parts; and [v] it will embed the early development of Synthetic Biology into the most meaningful industrial context by exploring the industrial interface. In addressing these aspects, EMERGENCE will provide a firm foundation for Synthetic Biology to prosper in Europe and to fulfil indeed its role as a future engine for economic growth.

(source: Cordis Nest Pathfinder projects 2003-2006)