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UC Berkeley launches Synthetic Biology Institute to advance research in biological engineering
Date:4/21/2011

ritical societal needs. Researchers are employing synthetic biology to develop inexpensive, plentiful drugs for treating the world's most intractable diseases, viable methods for producing transportation biofuels from plants, microbes that target tumors and disease, and an array of other applications, including water purification, agricultural advances, environmental remediation, and the creation of functional new materials.

"Synthetic biology potentially can have as profound an impact in the 21st century as semiconductor technology had in the 20th," said William P. Sullivan, Agilent's CEO and president. "To get there, we need to engineer biological solutions that are scalable, reliable, and safe. This is precisely what the UC Berkeley Synthetic Biology Institute is addressing, and why Agilent is enthusiastic about providing infrastructure, expertise, and funding for this new institute."

The deans of the two UC Berkeley colleges that have launched SBI S. Shankar Sastry of the College of Engineering and Richard A. Mathies of the College of Chemistry lauded Agilent's substantial commitment to SBI and its leadership in supporting the new endeavor. They are working to attract other industry members who will follow Agilent's lead, lending both financial support and research-area expertise, while advancing each company's own business goals in developing synthetic biology.

SBI is broadly interdisciplinary, with 33 faculty and scientists from eight academic departments at Berkeley and four divisions at LBNL, spanning engineering, chemical sciences, and biology.

Key research goals are to deepen understanding of how biological systems work; develop robust, transferable tools to engineer biosystems reliably; and develop and disseminate standardized design rules for constructing biological components and systems for diverse applications. Analyzing and addressing the ethical and social impacts of synthetic biology are also a focus for the
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