Navigation Links
Cambridge and Norwich win major boost for synthetic biology

Plant scientists at Cambridge and Norwich have been awarded 12 million funding for a new UK synthetic biology centre OpenPlant.

Inspired by the way open source data has stimulated innovation in computing, OpenPlant will create a climate of openness in synthetic biology, helping young researchers and entrepreneurs develop and share new tools and libraries of plant DNA.

OpenPlant is a collaboration between the University of Cambridge and the John Innes Centre on Norwich Research Park. The funding will be shared equally between the two institutions. It is one of three new UK centres for synthetic biology announced today by science minister David Willetts. Over the next five years the three centres will receive more than 40 million in funding from the BBSRC and EPSRC.

Sitting at the boundary between sciences, synthetic biology uses engineering principles including standardisation and modularisation to make new biological parts and systems. Using knowledge about the biological properties of plants and microbes, synthetic biology can improve their use as factories, food and fuel. As well as helping improve crops across the world, synthetic biology could be used to develop new medicines, chemicals and green energy sources.

Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts, said: "Synthetic biology is one of the most promising areas of modern science, which is why we have identified it as one of the eight great British technologies of the future. Synthetic biology has the potential to drive economic growth but still remains relatively untapped and these new centres will ensure that the UK is at the forefront when it comes to commercialising these new technologies."

While US researchers are at the cutting edge of synthetic biology in microbes, the UK has the edge in plants. To fulfil its potential, however, researchers and small companies need greater freedom to operate, freedom that in key areas of computing has driven innovation, and created new jobs, software and products.

According to Dr Jim Haseloff of the University of Cambridge: "The field needs a new two-tier system for intellectual property so that new tools including DNA components are freely shared, while investment in applications can be protected."

"This will enable greater participation in innovation for sustainable agriculture and innovation."

Dr Nicola Patron, Head of Synthetic Biology at The Sainsbury Laboratory, another key partner organisation in Norwich, said: "Current intellectual property practices threaten to stifle innovation in plant technology. By creating DNA resources and tools that are free to use, OpenPlant will foster the kind of innovation seen at the emergence of other new technologies such as microelectronics and computer software."

OpenPlant unites two leaders in the field. The University of Cambridge has played an important role in many key scientific discoveries in biology, from the structure of the double helix to next generation DNA sequencing. The John Innes Centre is a world-leader in plant and microbial research that benefits farmers, the environment, humans and economies worldwide. Scientific discoveries about synthetic DNA systems will feed future innovation by researchers at both institutions.

JIC scientists have also pioneered innovative engagement between scientists and the public such as through the Science, Art and Writing (SAW) initiative. Social scientists on the OpenPlant project will help map feasible technical approaches to challenges, such finding a less energy-intensive alternative to nitrogen fertilisers, considering the economic and social implications for different scenarios.

Contact: Becky Allen
University of Cambridge

Related biology news :

1. Big-headed fossil flies track major ecological revolution
2. Academy honors 15 for major contributions to science
3. Fast food not the major cause of rising childhood obesity rates
4. Symbiotic fungi inhabiting plant roots have major impact on atmospheric carbon, scientists say
5. Major reductions in seafloor marine life from climate change by 2100
6. Scientists look to tackle bacterium that is major cause of diarrhea, vomiting
7. Osteoporosis prevention strategies and new bone research focus of major Hong Kong meeting
8. Scientists map food security and self-provision of major cities
9. Majority of Americans believe another government shutdown likely in coming months
10. Columbia honors Philipp Scherer for helping to define body fat as major endocrine organ
11. U of M scientists solve major piece in the origin of biological complexity
Post Your Comments:
(Date:10/27/2015)... 27, 2015 In the present market scenario, ... for various industry verticals such as banking, healthcare, defense, ... growing demand for secure & simplified access control and ... as hacking of bank accounts, misuse of users, , ... as PC,s, laptops, and smartphones are expected to provide ...
(Date:10/27/2015)... SAN JOSE, Calif. , Oct. 27, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... human interface solutions, today announced that Google has adopted ... family of touch controller solutions to power its newest ... Nexus 6P by Huawei. --> ... ecosystem partners like Google to provide strategic collaboration in ...
(Date:10/26/2015)... PALO ALTO, Calif. and LAS ... – Nok Nok Labs , an innovator in ... FIDO Alliance , today announced the launch of its ... the first unified platform enabling organizations to use standards-based ... authentication. The Nok Nok S3 Authentication Suite is ideal ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... Studies reveal the differences in species of bacteria ... for more effective treatment for one of the most commonly ... --> --> Gum disease is one ... relatively little was understood about the bacteria associated with it ... researchers from the WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition together with ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... DIEGO , Nov. 25, 2015 Orexigen® ... management will participate in a fireside chat discussion at ... New York . The discussion is scheduled ... .  A replay will be ... Media Contact:McDavid Stilwell  , Julie NormartVP, Corporate Communications ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... Calif. , Nov. 24, 2015 Cepheid ... will be speaking at the following conference, and invited ... New York, NY      Tuesday, December 1, 2015 ... New York, NY      Tuesday, December 1, 2015 ... Jaffray Healthcare Conference, New York, NY ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... QUEBEC CITY , Nov. 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ - ... the request of IIROC on behalf of the Toronto ... this news release there are no corporate developments that ... price. --> --> ... --> . --> Aeterna Zentaris ...
Breaking Biology Technology: