Synthetic Genomics Study

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Revision as of 11:53, 4 July 2005 by Endy (talk | contribs) (Method)
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Introduction & Background

DNA synthesis is a technology that enables new genetic material to be constructed from raw chemicals. The technology has been developing over the last ~30 years, but more recently has undergone rapid improvements in both capacity and cost. Today, it is possible to order a piece of 10,000 base pair fragment of DNA over the web (i.e., you provide the DNA sequence information, a credit card number, and a shipping address). Most researchers involved with the technology believe that it is now possible to build 200,000 base pair fragments of DNA and expect that a ~1,000,000 base pair bacterial genome will be constructed within the next two years. The Sloan Foundation recently provided a grant to study the technical and societal consequences of the further development of DNA synthesis technology (aka "synthetic genomics"). Here's the announcement.

MIT/Cambridge-area ad hoc discussion group

I am planning to organize/host an ad hoc, informal discussion group that will meet ~once per month over the course of the study. My hope is that we (the MIT community) can explore and discuss any technical and societal issues that have to do with the development of long fragment DNA synthesis technology. Stay tuned for an announcement of the first meeting's time & place. Endy 18:07, 3 Jul 2005 (EDT)

  • Folks expressing interest, email <>
    • Peter Carr <>
    • Delbert A. Green II <dagreen@MIT.EDU>

Background Reading

  • Whole Gene Synthesis: A Gene-O-Matic Future by Lance Stewart and Alex B. Burgin (book chapter). Provides historical summary of synthesis chemistry and its extension to build genes.
  • Pace & Proliferation of Biological Technologies by Rob Carlson. A fanciful, but good, description of how fast things are happening w/r/t core biological technologies.
  • The Pandora's Box Congress by Michael Rogers. Rolling Stone article covering the 1975 Asilomar conference


MIT Synthetic Biology Working Group
J. Craig Venter Institute
Center for Strategic and International Studies
Alfred P. Sloan Foundation


Study announcement via MIT News Office