Our capacity to partner with biology to make useful things is limited by the tools that we use to specify, design, prototype, test, and analyze natural or engineered living systems. Biology has typically been engaged as a "technology of last resort" in attempts to solve problems that other more mature technologies cannot. As a result we can now only celebrate a few idiosyncratic biotechnology successes. We have not yet developed the scientific foundations and engineering processes needed to sustain geometric increases in our capacity to engineer biology. I'll review recent progress on making biology easier to engineer. Specific examples will include the development of a reliable S/R latch that operates in living cells and the beginnings of a genome-scale cellular operating system.
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About the speaker:
Drew Endy teaches in the new Bioengineering major at Stanford and previously helped start the Biological Engineering major at MIT. His Stanford research team is pursing one byte of programmable genetically encoded data storage. He also co-founded the BioBricks Foundation as a public-benefit charity that supports the open development of free-to-use standards and technology that enable the engineering of biology. He also organized what has become the International Genetically Engineered Machines (iGEM) competition and the BIOFAB International Open Facility Advancing Biotechnology (BIOFAB).