SynBioComm: Towards a European Synthetic Biology Community

Duration: 24 months


Coordinator: Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich (ETH) (Switzerland)

Contact Person:

Dr. Sven Panke
ETH Zürich
Institute of Process Engineering/ Bioprocess Lab
Sonneggstr. 5
8092 Zürich, Switzerland
e-mail: panke[at]
tel: +41 44 632 04 13
fax: +41 44 632 13 25



Project Description:

Synthetic Biology has emerged as a very recent but highly promising approach to reorganizing the scientific biological endeavour and its transformation into a highly successful and sustainable industry. By applying the tool box of more classical engineering disciplines such as electrical engineering, for example by vigorously applying modelling techniques and organizing the development of novel biological systems along a hierarchical systems architecture with defined interfaces, Synthetic Biology aims at no less than revolutionizing the way we do biology and biotechnology today. In our view, it is of prime importance to establish a vigorous scientific community in Europe that ensures that we can contribute to shaping this key field in the biological research enterprise, can capitalize on the emerging economic opportunities, and can play a leading role when it indeed comes to defining the standards of Synthetic Biology as a technological discipline. Furthermore, Synthetic Biology is an intrinsically interdisciplinary activity that thrives at the interface of biologists and engineers, where biologists contribute their deep insight into the molecular mechanisms of biological processes and cellular design principles, while the engineers can contribute their perspective and tools for systems behaviour and design procedures. There is currently a serious deficit in terms of engineering contribution to biological research in Europe which puts up additional obstacles for the formation of a Synthetic Biology community. This proposal addresses both, establishing a strong and vigorous European Synthetic Biology community and attracting engineers to a novel and rapidly evolving field. We propose to host the first European Conference in Synthetic Biology as a quasi-“inaugural” event for the future community and to sponsor the participation of interdisciplinary student teams from European universities in the international Synthetic Biology Summer Competition hosted by the MIT.

(source: Cordis Nest Pathfinder projects 2003-2006)