Abstract

Synthetic biology is a nascent field that emerged in earnest only around the turn of the millennium. It aims to engineer new biological systems and impart new biological functionality, often through genetic modifications. The design and construction of new biological systems is a complex, multistep process, requiring multidisciplinary collaborative efforts from "fusion" scientists who have formal training in computer science or engineering, as well as hands-on biological expertise. The public has high expectations for synthetic biology and eagerly anticipates the development of solutions to the major challenges facing humanity. This article discusses laboratory practices and the conduct of research in synthetic biology. It argues that the fusion science approach, which integrates biology with computer science and engineering best practices, including standardization, process optimization, computer-aided design and laboratory automation, miniaturization, and systematic management, will increase the predictability and reproducibility of experiments and lead to breakthroughs in the construction of new biological systems. The article also discusses several successful fusion projects, including the development of software tools for DNA construction design automation, recursive DNA construction, and the development of integrated microfluidics systems.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1529-8795
Print ISSN
0031-5982
Pages
pp. 503-520
Launched on MUSE
2013-03-17
Open Access
No
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