Symposium: Synthetic biology: scalability, implementation, and governance
Speakers, titles and abstracts:
Paul S. Freemont, Chair Biofoundry Global Alliance, Imperial College London, United Kingdom
Enabling the transition to a global bioeconomy with synthetic biology – opportunities and challenges
Abstract: Synthetic biology is now an established interdisciplinary research field which aims to engineer and re-engineer biological systems for both useful applications and further our understanding of the rules of life. The field has grown rapidly over the last 20 years with major public and private investment. However, despite the enormous progress, the full promise and potential of synthetic biology has not yet been achieved. In this talk I will describe some of the advances the field has made over the last 15 years and discuss the opportunities for transitioning to a bioeconomy through biomanufacturing. I will introduce the importance of public-funded biofoundries in nucleating and developing the new synthetic biology industry as well as advancing the research field and providing public infrastructure for a pandemic response.
Jussi Jäntti, VTT Technical Research Center of Finland, Finland
Making use of the richness of biological functionalities for sustainable production
Abstract: Evolution has enabled a staggering number of different types of functionalities in nature. These functionalities are encoded by the DNA. Synthetic biology thrives to unravel how these functionalities are encoded in the DNA and how we can translate this knowledge for sustainable production systems and end-products. I will discuss the work we have carried out to enable increasingly efficient engineerability of eukaryotic microbes in order to be able to meet the sustainability challenges we are facing.
Marjolein Crooijmans, Director or Enrepreneurship (EPIC) iGEM, Leiden University, The Netherlands
iGEM Startups: Community-led Education of the Next Generation of Biofounders
Abstract: The annual iGEM competition gives us interesting insights into new technologies and innovations that will hit the market in the next 5-10 years. What would happen if we accelerate and support that process? Over the last three years, iGEM Startups has created a community of mentors, teachers, investors and friends dedicated to guide these projects to the next level in a 9-month long teaching program after the competition. The “Biofounders” are iGEM alumni with a passion for entrepreneurship, a heart for synthetic biology and a lot of awesome ideas.
James Love, Vice President, Automation and Process Optimization, Novo Nordisk, Denmark
Towards closed loop protein engineering and process optimization
Abstract: Efficient engineering in the infinite space of possibilities of the design and build of protein and peptide drugs is being made a robust process by the implementation of robotics that allows minimal human intervention: this reduces manual work, increases consistency and data capture. This is being automated as much as possible. This talk will explain the how and why we automate, and some of the progress towards human free-closed loop experimentation.
Simone Bianco, Principal Investigator and Director of Computational Innovation, Altos Labs, USA
Advances in Computer Aided Design of Biological Systems
Abstract: It is no overstatement that artificial intelligence and machine learning have taken the world of biology by storm in the last decade. From molecules to cells to tissues, organs, individuals and populations, there are no parts of biology where some kind of AI has not been used. Among these, synthetic biology, the discipline which aims at building new biological entities and modifying existing ones, especially for medical and industrial applications, has seen a growing number of exciting scientific breakthroughs. In this talk I will describe my vision for the future of AI in biology and especially synthetic biology and present some examples from my own research.
Brice Laurent, Centre de Sociologie de l’Innovation (CSI), Mines ParisTech, France
Democratizing emerging technologies?
Abstract: The development of new technologies, particularly in the field of biotechnology, often leads to calls for public engagement, public involvement, and possibly democratization. But what these terms entail is far from clear, as the variety of approaches to the democratization of emerging technologies show. This talk will explore a path for democratization that starts from the uncertain scientific and regulatory nature of technological objects and explores its manifestations in various sites.
Nadia Skorupa Parachin, Senior Program Director, Ginkgo, USA
Strategies for making biology easier to engineer- how Ginkgo Bioworks is scaling-up its synthetic biology platform
Abstract: Synthetic biology can help solve challenging problems such as accessing economies of scale to drive down the cost of goods sold, re-shore and strengthen the supply chain, differentiate products by tailor-made synthesis, and take advantage of new market opportunities. At Ginkgo, we see the potential for biology to transform all industries. Nevertheless, capturing biology’s potential has been historically difficult due to extensive research and manual labor, manual strain engineering and testing, development of fermentation processes, and scale-up. Thus, successfully engineering biology requires a combinatorial optimization of DNA sequences to be sourced, designed, and tested. Therefore, Ginkgo’s mission is to make biology easy to engineer. Our platform helps discover, develop, and optimize biology for commercial needs. This presentation will discuss examples of how our automated platform is used for creating novels processed in various fields. Also, at Ginkgo, we believe our platform can play an essential role in addressing some of the significant societal and environmental challenges we face today, so initiatives on how Ginkgo positively impacts society will also be presented.
Marilene Pavan, Manager, HTP Synthetic Biology, Lanzatech, US
Realizing a truly circular bioeconomy via waste carbon recycling by gas fermentation.
Abstract: High levels of anthropogenic CO2 emissions are driving global climate warming. If this pattern of increasing emissions does not change, it will cause further climate change with severe consequences for the human population. Microbial gas fermentation presents an exciting opportunity to capture carbon oxides from gaseous and solid waste streams with high feedstock flexibility and selectivity. A comprehensive, systems-level understanding of metabolism, key metabolic pathways, scale-up opportunities and commercial successes, and the most recent technological advances in strain and process engineering of these microorganisms is crucial to realize the full potential of biocatalysts for the efficient and economically viable production of bioproducts from recycled carbon.
Irina Borodina, Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability DTU, Denmark
Fermented pheromones – a sustainable solution for plant protection from insect pests
Abstract: Sex pheromones produced naturally by insects for mating communication present an environmentally safe alternative to insecticides for pest control. Whereas insecticides have severe negative effects on public health and the environment, pheromones are biodegradable species-specific compounds that neither affect beneficial species in the ecosystem nor exert adverse effects on human health. We have developed a biotechnology-based solution to enable cheaper and environmentally friendly production of pheromone components from renewable feedstocks using yeast cell factories. The integrated process was up-scaled and demonstrated at 100+ m3 scale. The biologically produced pheromone blend was just as effective for attracting the cotton bollworm in the field tests as a synthetic pheromone mix. It is a disrupting technology that enables a wide economic application of pheromones for pest control in fruits, vegetables, and row crops. Broad implementation of pheromones will have a tremendous impact on health and the environment, reducing workers’ exposure to chemical insecticides, reducing the residues of insecticides in the food, and supporting biodiversity.
Magali Remaud-Simeon, Toulouse Biotechnology Institute, France
Playing with enzyme evolvability for cell-free and cell-based innovation
Abstract: The depletion of fossil and mineral resources, environmental pollution, and their proven or anticipated impacts on the climate, biodiversity and health are all factors that have led to an unprecedented awareness of the need for a paradigm shift in order to find sustainable, eco-responsible and competitive alternatives for the production of compounds, goods or services of current use. Biotechnologies and biosciences are by definition very well positioned to respond to this emergency. At the heart of these disciplines, enzymes are remarkable biotransformation tools. Biodegradable, renewable and able to act under mild conditions, they possess a formidable catalytic power allowing the development of innovative bioproduction pathways and bringing attractive solutions to the current problems our society is facing. We propose to give an overview of the recent achievements of the Biocatalysis Department of the Toulouse Institute of Biotechnology in this field, focusing in particular on the discovery, structure-function studies and computer-assisted engineering of enzymes.
We will illustrate the power of these integrated approaches for synthetic biology and for the construction of new metabolic pathways. We will also address the question of the development of cell-free enzyme systems using the example of a transglucosylase discovery and engineering program. We will show how we are able to tune these enzymatic activities for the optimal bioproduction of a wide range of sugar-derived products, including polymers and glycosurfactants and other structurally controlled glyco-conjugates, using cell-free systems.
Per-Olof Syrén, Science for Life Laboratory, Stockholm, Sweden
Protein design for synthetic biology applications
Abstract: Enzyme engineering and protein design is required to enable extended catalytic versatilities of biocatalyst and release the full potential of synthetic biology. In this talk, I will present recent results from my research group on sequence-based protein design to generate enzymes, proteins and biopharmaceuticals with improved properties and extended function for applications spanning fine chemical synthesis, plastic recycling and medicine.
Priscila De Giuseppe, Brazilian Center for Research in Energy and Materials (CNPEM), Brazil
Synthetic biology to address the major challenges in the valorization of lignocellulosic biomass in Brazil.
Abstract: The sustainable transition from fossil-based to bio-based processes requires more than a feedstock switch. It also depends on innovative conversion technologies for the transformation of bioresources to high-value chemicals, materials, and fuels. In this scenario, synthetic biology plays a central role, allowing the development of biotechnological solutions to address the challenges imposed by the recalcitrance and structural heterogeneity of lignocellulosic biomasses.
This talk will highlight the importance of multiscale and multidisciplinary approaches to propel innovative solutions in the industrial biotechnology field, with a focus on lignocellulosic biomass valorization. Examples ranging from advanced methods for the discovery and characterization of new enzymes to the rational design and bioprocess development of microbial platforms will be given, highlighting how the Brazilian Biorenewables National Laboratory (LNBR) has been using synthetic biology to address the major challenges for the use of plant biomass as an alternative renewable feedstock to produce biofuels, biochemicals and biomaterials.
Joyce Tait, Founding Director of the Innogen Centre/Institute, The University of Edinburgh, UK
Governing the products of synthetic biology: beyond the UK Brexit opportunity
Abstract: This talk will discuss the UK Government's plans for the regulation of gene editing and also GM technologies, post Brexit, and discuss the proposals in the UK Regulatory Horizons Council Report on Genetic Technologies. It will make the international case for revision of regulatory systems for products of all genetic technologies, potentially leading to a step change in the delivery of innovative solutions to today's food and environment-related challenges.