Centre for Engineering Biology

Once Upon a Biofuture – Tales for a New Millennium

Once Upon a Biofuture: Tales for a New Millennium is an anthology of stories, from fiction to memoir, by a multidisciplinary team of scientists in the UK Centre for Mammalian Biology at The University of Edinburgh

Once Upon a Biofuture: Tales for a New Millennium
Cover illustration by Pilar Garcia de Leaniz

A mix of biology, philosophy and mythology, they explore a powerful new technology that is re-engineering our world: synthetic biology. Many of the stories are biographical, offering insight into how the scientists become scientists and the lessons learned through science exploration, or taking us to new imaginative worlds

The stories were recorded and transcribed, or workshopped and edited by Jessica Fox, former storyteller for NASA, and artist-in-residence at the Centre. This unique role enabled the scientists to lead the storytelling and retain creative control while being guided by an experienced writer.


Available Now | Shoreline of Infinity

Synthetic Biology

Synthetic biology is the design and construction of new biological parts, devices, and systems, and the re-design of existing, natural biological systems for useful purposes. 

Researchers can, for example, engineer bacteria with the ability to upcycle carbon or metal waste into high value chemicals,  or use gene editing tools to generate cells resistant to Lewy bodies and useful in the management of Parkinson’s disease.

The Centre

The UK Centre for Mammalian Synthetic Biology, was funded in 2014 by the BBSRC, EPSRC and MRC and the UK Research Council's Synthetic Biology for Growth Programme.

The vision for the Centre was to develop the tools and technologies for mammalian synthetic biology, enabling deeper insights into the fundamentals of mammalian biology and novel applications in biotechnology and biomedicine.

A 2022 transition award in Engineering Biology for Cell and Gene Therapy Applications derives from and builds upon this investment.

The Contributors

  • Jessica Fox - former artist-in-residence
  • Dr Liz Fletcher - former Centre Manager
  • Dr Gaynor Campbell - Edinburgh Genome Foundry, School of Biological Sciences
  • Professor Jamie Davies - Centre for Discovery Brain Sciences
  • Professor Joyce Tait - Science, Technology & Innovation Studies
  • Professor Tilo Kunath - School of Biological Sciences | Centre for Regenerative Medicine
  • Dr Abdenour Soufi - School of Biological Sciences | Centre for Regenerative Medicine
  •  Professor William Earnshaw - School of Biological Sciences
  • Pippa Goldschmidt - former writer in residence at STIS 
  • Dr Alexander Shah (Alex) - former PhD student
  • Dr Maqsood Ahmed (or Max) - former post-doc
  • Dr Alazne Dominguez-Monedero - former post-doc

The Publisher

Shoreline of Infinity is a science fiction and fantasy focused publisher and events host based in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Related Links

Engineering Biology for the Future