Synthetic biology: addressing global challenges

Tuesday 22nd November 2016 @ 19:00

Non-Member: £12.00 ; Staff: £5.00 ; Student: £3.00

Professor Richard Kitney OBE Director of the Centre for Synthetic Biology and Innovation

One of UK Government's Eight Great Technologies is to apply engineering principles to biological systems in order to meet needs for low-carbon fuel, new food sources, novel pharmaceuticals and much more.

The last half of the 19th century and the first years of the 20th century saw the development of technologies that would create the basis of wealth generation by means of major new industries – principally petrochemical, automotive, aviation and electronics.

These developments helped create the modern world.

Synthetic biology has the potential to create another raft of major new industries, the development of which is likely to have profound implications for the future of the UK, European and world economies.

At this time of global economic uncertainty, the fostering of new wealth creating industries and technologies is a stated Government objective. At present, in the field of synthetic biology, the UK can demonstrate a competitive advantage in fundamental research, massive growth potential (as synthetic biology techniques mature and replace existing production techniques) and the realistic potential to being number one or two in the world. Synthetic biology is therefore a prime candidate for significant investment to develop UK capabilities.*


Richard Ian Kitney OBE, FREng, FRSE, DSc (Eng), FCGI is Professor of Biomedical Systems Engineering; Chairman of the Institute of Systems and Synthetic Biology; and Co-Director of the EPSRC National Centre for Synthetic Biology and Innovation.  He was Founding Head of the Department of Bioengineering, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering.

Kitney is recognised as a leading research worker in the field of synthetic biology and, with Professor Paul Freemont, has been responsible for developing the Imperial College Hub for Synthetic Biology. This is now recognised as one of the leading international centres in the field.


The Synthetic Biology Hub is comprised of five 'branches' which together create a centre of excellence for synthetic biology in the UK.
•    The Centre for Synthetic Biology and Innovation
•    SynbiCITE
•    The Foundry
•    Frontiers Engineering
•    The Flowers Consortium

The Centre for Synthetic Biology and Innovation is the academic branch of the Hub, undertaking basic research into developing new tools for synthetic biology such as biological part libraries, CAD software, computational models and automation. This will allow future generations to build new biology in a fast, affordable and robust manner. CSynBI is also applying synthetic biology to generate biological solutions to the worlds needs.

SynbiCITE, the Innovation and Knowledge Centre, based at Imperial aims to bridge the gap between academia and industry to speed up developments in new synthetic biology technologies. This is complemented by the DNA Synthesis and Construction Foundry, a facility that is establishing a common framework to build DNA by using an automated robotic system. The hope is that synthetic biologists will be able to scale up the volumes of DNA produced to more easily test their new function. This is further complemented by Frontiers Engineering, an initiative which is facilitating the transition from oil-based to bio-based process feed stocks.


* taken from the Royal Academy of Engineering report authored by Prof Kitney - 'Synthetic Biology : scope, applications and implications.'




Optionally followed by supper (this can be booked on the event booking form).
After the lecture a Friends' Table has been reserved at a local restaurant to entertain the speaker and for any of the audience who would like to join us to continue the evening's discussion. A two-course fixed price supper is served including wine, coffee and service charge.
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Venue: SAF Building, Imperial College London

Campus Map reference 33
on the Imperial College London Map