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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/H049479/1
Title: Enabling Tools & Technologies for Synthetic Biology
Principal Investigator: Cockroft, Professor SL
Other Investigators:
Polizzi, Professor KM Howse, Dr J Szita, Professor N
Dougan, Professor L
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Sch of Chemistry
Organisation: University of Edinburgh
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 November 2010 Ends: 31 January 2016 Value (£): 807,438
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Synthetic biology
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Healthcare Pharmaceuticals and Biotechnology
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
12 Feb 2010 Engineering Challenges in Synthetic Biology Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Synthetic Biology is a new discipline with the potential to create a wide variety of consumer products with applications in healthcare, biofuels, food, and materials. However, in order to realise its full potential, Synthetic Biology requires investment in fundamental research to develop basic protocols and technologies that allow researchers to quickly and easily make new biological parts and understand their behaviour in different conditions. We are an enthusiastic team of young researchers from different backgrounds in the Engineering, Physical and Biological Sciences who can use our combined expertise to tackle these problems. This project employs a flexible funding model that allows us to adapt our research program as new information becomes available. Initially we have chosen to focus on five proof-of-principle projects that tackle the first steps in developing Synthetic Biology applications. We hope to answer the following questions:1) How can we improve DNA synthesis so that biological parts can be made more efficiently?2) Are there measurements that can be made outside of cells that will predict what will happen when nucleic acids and proteins are inside cells?3) Can we create non-living systems to test biological parts that do not interfere with their function?4) What type of measurement instruments will aid us in testing the behaviour of parts in different conditions?We will begin by answering these questions for a simple test system and use what we learn to develop methods for increasingly complex systems composed of more parts. As part of our research program, we will also consider how our work impacts society and ensure that interested parties learn about it by a series of activities including networking meetings, workshops, and public engagement activities.Not only is this work applicable to all researchers in Synthetic Biology, who will be able to more efficiently create new systems, but parts of it will also benefit researchers in other disciplines. For instance, new DNA synthesis technology will benefit researchers in all biological and medical disciplines who will no longer need to perform tedious molecular biology, but will instead be able to purchase genes of interest, accelerating the pace at which new discoveries are made. This, coupled with the discoveries that become possible from synthetic biologists means our work has a wide ranging impact.
Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
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Organisation Website: http://www.ed.ac.uk