New to synthetic biology? No problem. Most people are. Strip it down to the basics and it’s genetic engineering and biological engineering, only done with new tools that make it easier, faster, and cheaper to do than ever before.
Over the last decade, new infrastructure has been created to make life science far more accessible than in the past. Now this infrastructure can be used by almost anyone, with very little training, to do what once required expensive, dedicated resources. 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 isn’t C+, it’s DNA, the applications are living organisms, and the viruses are potentially a lot scarier than the ones that infect your PC. Plus the policy, law, and ethics are relatively more important and controversial.
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
Making Synthetic Ribosomes with George Church
BioPixels — using bacteria and microfluidics to make living displays
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)
E&Y biotechnology Report 2011 – 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)
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.