With research backgrounds ranging from materials engineering to molecular biophysics, seventeen leading scientists issued a statement today announcing that, much as the discovery of DNA and creation of the transistor revolutionized science, there is a new scientific field on the brink of revolutionizing our approach to problems ranging from eco-safe energy to outbreaks of malaria.
That research area is synthetic biology – the construction or redesign of biological systems components that do not naturally exist, by combining the engineering applications and practices of nanoscience with molecular biology.
“The early twenty-first century is a time of tremendous promise and tremendous peril,” includes the statement. “We face daunting problems of climate change, energy, health, and water resources. Synthetic biology offers solutions to these issues: microorganisms that convert plant matter to fuels or that synthesize new drugs or target and destroy rogue cells in the body.”
The two-page statement calls for an international effort to advance synthetic biology that would not only propel research, but do so while developing protective measures against accidents and abuses of synthetic biology.
The statement was issued following the conclusion of the first Kavli Futures Symposium, held June 11-15 in Ilulissat, Greenland. Signed unanimously, signatories include scientists from the California Institute of Technology, Carnegie Institution of Washington, Cornell University, J. Craig Venter Institute, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the Institute for Advanced Study, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton University, Stanford University, and University of California at Berkeley (United States); Ecole Normale Superieure (France); Delft University of Technology (The Netherlands); Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, TU Dresden (Germany); Weizman Institute of Science (Israel); Systems Biology Institute, and Sony Computer Science Laboratories (Japan).
“When we gathered at the Kavli Futures Symposium, researchers – among the best in their fields – in areas such as nanoscience, physics, biology, materials science and engineering met to share their expertise and brainstorm on one of the most promising yet controversial fields facing science today,” said Cees Dekker, professor of molecular biophysics in the Kavli Institute of NanoScience at the Delft University of Technology. “That we not only achieved a consensus, but resolved to issue a unanimous statement on the critical importance of this field is significant.”
The statement also addresses the uncertainties of synthetic biology. “As with any powerful technology, the promise comes with risk. We need to develop protective measures against accidents and abuses of synthetic biology. A system of best practices must be established to foster positive uses of the technology and suppress negative ones. The risks are real; but the potential benefits are truly extraordinary.”
The statement’s recommendations include creation of a professional organization that will engage with the broader society to maximize the benefits, minimize the risks, and oversee the ethics of synthetic life.
“This is a critical moment for synthetic biology,” said Paul McEuen, professor of physics, Cornell University. “The choices facing us now – the scientific investments we make and the rules we set down to govern the field – will impact society for decades to come.”
The symposium was sponsored by The Kavli Foundation and co-hosted and organized by The Kavli Institute at Cornell for Nanoscience and The Kavli Institute of Nanoscience at Delft University of Technology. “This is the first of a series of unique symposia that focus on the trends, challenges and opportunities for future scientific research,” said David Auston, president of the Kavli Foundation. “By emphasizing a forward looking perspective, the Kavli Futures Symposia provide a forum for discussion of the key issues facing future developments and directions in specific fields, and thereby help to define and guide the development of the research in these fields.”
Said Fred Kavli, founder of The Kavli Foundation, “I am delighted at the success of this inaugural symposium, which has not only taken a look into the future of science, but provided the first steps toward navigating a successful journey into an exciting and challenging new frontier.”
NOTE: The complete text of the Ilulissat Statement can be found at: http://www.kavlifoundation.org/news/pr_062507.htmlStatement Signatories
Frank Nuijens | alfa
Flavins keep a handy helper in their pocket
25.04.2018 | University of Freiburg
Complete skin regeneration system of fish unraveled
24.04.2018 | Tokyo Institute of Technology
At the Hannover Messe 2018, the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und-prüfung (BAM) will show how, in the future, astronauts could produce their own tools or spare parts in zero gravity using 3D printing. This will reduce, weight and transport costs for space missions. Visitors can experience the innovative additive manufacturing process live at the fair.
Powder-based additive manufacturing in zero gravity is the name of the project in which a component is produced by applying metallic powder layers and then...
Physicists at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics, which is jointly run by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, have developed a high-power laser system that generates ultrashort pulses of light covering a large share of the mid-infrared spectrum. The researchers envisage a wide range of applications for the technology – in the early diagnosis of cancer, for instance.
Molecules are the building blocks of life. Like all other organisms, we are made of them. They control our biorhythm, and they can also reflect our state of...
University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.
Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.
Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.
Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...
Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.
The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
09.04.2018 | Event News
25.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
25.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
25.04.2018 | Information Technology