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NSF grant to launch world's first open-source genetic parts production facility
Date:1/20/2010

al control elements in an E. coli bacterium, fewer than 100 have been seriously studied and characterized. Of the 500-plus promoters listed in current registries, for example, fewer than 50 have been measured, Endy said.

"What exists today is not a professional parts catalog," Arkin said. "But the parts we have, while not perfect, are better than nothing, and they are helping researchers all over the world."

"We now need to move beyond Lego metaphors and genetic toys to professional technologies," Endy added.

Operating in partnership with the UC Berkeley-led, NSF-supported Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center (SynBERC) directed by Keasling, the BIOFAB is raising additional funds to hire 29 full-time staff who will systematically refine, standardize and characterize the activity of each genetic control element in E. coli, so that large-scale collections of genetic parts can be treated more like standardized components. What the researchers learn will be applied to parts collections in other microbes and used to assemble engineered biological systems.

"Even though we will be building parts and making systems, we are still in the foundational research stage," Arkin cautioned. "But in starting BIOFAB, we will accumulate the specialized know-how and the community of researchers necessary to become a resource for production and training in synthetic biology."

The BIOFAB also will promulgate standards for technical and professional practice through application of resources such as the BioBrick Public Agreement, a new legal framework supporting open technology platforms in genetic engineering.

"The BIOFAB promises not just to deliver needed foundational technologies, but do so in support of open innovation and collaboration in biotechnology," said David Grewal, a Harvard Fellow and BioBricks director.

To best accomplish its goals, the BIOFAB is also fully integrating ethics research within its produc
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Contact: Robert Sanders
rsanders@berkeley.edu
510-643-6998
University of California - Berkeley
Source:Eurekalert

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