New to synthetic biology?  No problem.  Most people are.  The basics is that it’s genetic engineering done with new, digital tools, which makes the work easier, faster, and cheaper than ever before. This makes it more accessible and fosters creativity because projects are less expensive and failure less costly.

We’ve seen this dynamic play out before in computing, which is why biology is poised to become the next IT industry.  Only there’s a twist: in this industry, the code is DNA, the applications are living organisms, and the viruses are powerful tools for loading software into cells.

Here you can learn a bit more about the field, people, and issues.


Synthetic Biology Explained

Introduction to Synthetic Biology, Singularity University 2009

Daisy Ginsberg at PopTech 2011 discussing engineered life – terrific!

The Inner Life of the Cell – an award-winning look at the molecular systems that comprise life

BioPixels — using bacteria and microfluidics to make living displays


Great books to get started in synthetic biology and understand how disruptive it is
Great books to get started in synthetic biology and understand how disruptive it is


DNA seen through the eyes of a coder  I frequently say that DNA is executable code for living things.  Here’s a thoughtful technical comparison.

Woodrow Wilson Synthetic Biology Project  One of the best websites for general synthetic biology information and news.

Rob Carlson’s Synthesis Blog  Arguably the best blog in synthetic biology, by one of the field’s leading thinkers.


Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues Synthetic Biology Report 2010 (pdf)

EY biotechnology Report 2014 – an excellent overview of the global biotechnology industry (pdf)


Check out Material Connexion, a global physical and electronic library of over 6,500 different materials, including bio-materials, for your manufacturing needs. (subscription required)


FoldIt  The amazing protein folding game that is now producing scientific breakthroughs!  Learn more in this excellent Wired magazine article.

EteRNA  An RNA folding game that, like FoldIt, improves the fundamental science, plus the best designs are actually synthesized and tested.  Described as “addictive”.  More on EteRNA here.

Strain – The Bioengineering Board Game.  Become a genetic engineer on par with Dr. Moreau!

Courses and Degrees

Khan Academy  Thousands of courses and texts online.

Coursera  Online courses, learn at your own pace.

Udacity  No biology courses – yet.


Programming Life