Researcher has top role in UK Research Network

A University researcher is to lead part of a UK-wide network on synthetic biology.

Synthetic biology is an emerging science in which biological devices can be created with bespoke functions that do not exist in nature.

This approach promises to have great impact across areas as diverse as biomedicine and biofuels.

Dr Alistair Elfick of the School of Engineering is to lead a team focusing on genetic building blocks of DNA, known as BioBricks. These bricks can be combined to form devices with predictable performance.

For example, Dr Elfick, together with Dr Chris French of the School of Biological Sciences, has previously applied the technology to modify E.Coli bacteria to act as a test for arsenic contamination of drinking water.

The new research network is funded by the BBSRC, EPSRC, ESRC and AHRC.

It aims to help define common standards for the use of BioBricks.

Synthetic biology raises a number of interesting and challenging technical, social, ethical and legal questions. We very much look forward to working with the network members and other groups to explore these questions and stimulate debate.

Dr Emma FrowGenomics Policy & Research Forum