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Synthetic biology dialogue – Impacts

Synthetic biology dialogue – Impacts - 15 May 2013. iStockphoto

BBSRC, with input from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), has published a document outlining the impacts that their 2010 'Synthetic Biology Dialogue' has had in informing continued discussions around synthetic biology.

In summer 2009 BBSRC and EPSRC, commissioned the "Synthetic Biology Dialogue" report.

Synthetic biology has enormous potential to address some of the major challenges facing society but in developing the science it is important to consider the social context in which the research is done, and the society in which the research hopes to find application.

The dialogue aimed to begin a discussion to explore people's hopes, concerns and aspirations around synthetic biology, a relatively new scientific field involving the design and engineering of biologically based parts, devices and systems as well as the redesign of existing, natural biological systems.

Members of the public as well as people with a professional interest in the field were asked for their views.

The dialogue was published in June 2010, and the new document, 'Synthetic Biology Dialogue - Impacts' details how the original dialogue has continued to play an important role in the discussion of synthetic biology, with the research councils and further afield, including internationally.

The report shows that the Synthetic Biology Dialogue has been influential both internally to BBSRC and EPSRC, and in other organisations. There are existing processes that have been modified as a result of the Dialogue findings and there are also instances where the Dialogue has informed activities that weren't yet planned when our original response was made, including informing contributions to the Government's Synthetic Biology Roadmap.

Some of the impacts include: the report findings being disseminated and at the European Commission; commitments to supporting researchers to consider their motivations for doing their research and to be aware of the broad issues raised in the dialogue; development of a public engagement training course; a workshop for the synthetic biology research community.

You can read 'Synthetic Biology Dialogue -Impacts' at http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/web/FILES/Reviews/synthetic-biology-dialogue-impacts.pdf, and find the original dialogue and recommendations at http://bbsrc.ac.uk/society/dialogue/activities/synthetic-biology/findings-recommendations.aspx.

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