Brazil and the “next industrial revolution:” Synthetic Biology

 

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Synthetic Biology is the hot new ticket in Life Sciences and beyond, with research establishments in developed and developing countries piling aboard the new discipline.

No surprise then, that Brazil is also climbing onto the bandwagon.  The University of São Paulo  (USP) has recently set up USP SynBio, a Synthetic Biology Center that brings together researchers from the disciplines of biomechanical  engineering,  chemistry,  biosciences, engineering and statistics.

A mixture of genetic, mechanical and materials engineering, synthetic biology is the design and construction of biological devices and systems for useful purposes. Synthetic biologists study how organisms work, and then try to create new biological systems based on these principles. It has been described as the science of making novel living organisms which experts say could lead to a new industrial revolution. In addition, it could help revert ecosystem collapse and species extinctions.

Commentators have described synthetic biology is “the best hope for mankind,” capable of delivering “Ferrari crops” to feed the world. Click here to read a primer in  the Guardian newspaper. It’s certainly new: the first synthetic yeast organisms were only invented in 2001, and – in theory at least – it should one day be possible to develop a “virtual physiologic human.”

One of the most immediate applications of the new science is in the field of renewable energy from biofuels and biomass production. Brazil’s global leadership in the sugar cane-derived ethanol industry makes this a natural field for the country’s scientists. Experts from the British universities of Nottingham and Birmingham are already working with Brazilian counterparts in this field.

In August 2013, SynBio will host an international conference in São Paulo, bringing together world experts. The event is sponsored by the University of São Paulo and by FAPESP, the São Paulo Research Foundation.

You can read about the Brazil Conference by Clicking Here

Speakers from the United States, Germany, Denmark, Belgium, Australia and Italy are already confirmed.

Synthetic biology for biofuel production fits neatly into the framework  of BIOEN, one of the three core R&D financing programs  run by  FAPESP. This article suggest that Brazil believes its natural advantages in biomass production mean it could generate huge reserves of biological raw materials from which to develop new generations of useful materials created via synthetic biology.

In the United States, synthetic biology is one of the most influential disciplines by published papers. You can read more about the complexities attached to synthetic systems  by Clicking Here

You can see the  USP conference’s speaker lists below:

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