Bbf:Notes from the early days

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Text on this site cut and paste from "planning" BBF page on 3 December 2005.

News news and info. on the main site back here.


August 4, 2005
We successfully cleared our trademark searches this week and filed with the State of Massachusetts yesterday. Stay tuned for an announcement and our website Endy 18:02, 4 Aug 2005 (EDT)

August 5, 2005
We just announced at 2005 OSCON! -- [OSCON talk]

August 19, 2005
We're now official via the MA Secretary of State, more announcements soon about our Board and initial projects. Endy 17:55, 19 Aug 2005 (EDT)


A proposal to establish:

The BioBricks Foundation

Draft 0.3 (with ongoing wiki-based revisions from June 1, 2005)

May 28, 2005

Contact Drew Endy [; 617 258 5152]


  1. Hal Abelson
  2. Brian Baynes
  3. Rob Carlson
  4. George Church
  5. Drew Endy
  6. Lauren Ha
  7. Jason Kelly
  8. Tom Knight
  9. Kathleen McGinness
  10. John Mulligan
  11. Randy Rettberg
  12. Reshma Shetty
  13. Pamela Silver
  14. Gerry Sussman
  15. Rebecca Ward
  16. You (email comments to [])

Board of Directors

  • Christopher Voigt
  • Drew Endy, President
  • Tom Knight
  • Randy Rettberg
  • Rebecca Ward, Clerk & Treasurer

Pending Directors

Description of Activities

Biology forms the basis for human health and ecological welfare. Current efforts are primarily devoted to the study of existing biological systems. We can also engineer biology, producing living technologies that manipulate information, fabricate materials, process chemicals, and produce energy.

We are establishing a not-for-profit organization, the BioBricks Foundation (BBF), in order to promote the constructive and open development of biological technology. The BBF will initially support the following activities:

(i) Development and application of strategies that enable the distributed growth of an open commons of information specifying biological function, such that many individuals and organizations can contribute to and make use of libraries of standard biological parts, devices and systems.

(ii) Development and operation of a web of registries of standard biological parts.

(iii) Development and dissemination of standards of fabrication, characterization, operation and identification that are needed to enable the distributed and responsible development of biological technology.

(iv) Promotion of safety and ethical guidlines with respect to the development and use of engineered biological systems.

Through its activities, the BBF will enable the widespread commercial and non-commercial development of diverse biological technologies, by individuals, for-profit companies, and other organizations.

Brief Background and Further Description of Activities

(i) Strategies that enable the distributed growth of an open commons of information specifying biological function.

Today, the ownership and ability to make use of basic biological functions is stovepiped; many individuals and organizations control access to the information and rights to deploy the information specifying different basic biological functions. As a result, two practical problems arise that prohibit the widespread engineering of many-component integrated biological systems. First, a developer of a new basic biological function, either an individual or corporation, cannot easily and reliably contribute their work to a useful commons of basic biological functions. Second, a would-be engineer of an integrated biological system cannot make use of an open library of basic biological functions.

To solve these two problems, the BBF will work internally and with other organizations (e.g., Science Commons) to develop, apply, and if necessary defend strategies that support the distributed construction and zero-cost sharing of open libraries of standard biological parts. The BBF will foster the dissemination and application of such strategies by actively supporting an open community of parts developers and users.

(ii) Development and operation of a web of registries of standard biological parts.

In order for parts to be useful, it must be possible to easily describe and find standard biological parts that fulfill needed functions. The Registry of Standard Biological Parts, piloted at MIT over the last three years, solves this problem. However, in order to support many diverse users, entities, and interests, it will be necessary to support a distributed web of registries of standard biological parts. Also, in some cases, it will be useful to centrally commission the development and characterization of sets of certain types of standard biological parts (e.g., synthetic transcription factors) for re-use within an open commons of basic biological functions.

Thus, the BBF will work to (a) define and implement standards for parts definition and description, (b) define and implement standards of exchange that enable the sharing of the information defining parts across many registries, and (c) conduct consensus-based identification of useful part types, and commission the construction and characterization of libraries of such parts for general use.

(iii) Development and dissemination of standards of fabrication, characterization, operation and identification.

In order for many individuals and organizations to share parts and work together to best engineer biology, we need standards of parts fabrication, characterization and system operation. Furthermore, in order to responsibly develop biology as a technology, we must invent and implement standards that facilitate parts and systems identification (e.g., a biological engineer always signs their work).

Thus, the BBF will initiate and support working groups that define and refine standard fabrication techniques (e.g., assembly of parts into devices and systems), standard methods of characterization, standard operating conditions as well as techniques for marking parts as originating from the commons (e.g., parts barcoding and systems signatures).

(iv) Promotion of safety and ethical codes with respect to the development and use of engineered biological systems.

The BBF seeks to promote an open commons in which all members of the community are encouraged to engage in parts development in an open and responsible fashion. As this technology matures, it will be necessary to define guidelines of conduct with respect to the safe and ethical use of engineered biological systems. The BBF will support an open and ongoing discussion of the nature of these guidelines ultimately leading to a set of practice standards for the community.

By working to establish these standards at the outset, the BBF will help to preempt some otherwise foreseeable future biological risks, while promoting the development of an overwhelming constructive and responsible community of biological engineers who can help respond to natural, accidental, or intentionally engineered risks.

Startup Plan and Funding

The BioBricks Foundation, Inc. is now a legal entity. Seed funding has been pledged that will cover our initial incorporation costs. We will be working to develop sustainable funding for our operations via memberships, promotional materials (e.g., T-shirts), and donations. We expect to operate as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization.

Possible Logos

c/o George Church
c/o George Church
c/o Jenny Nguyen
c/o Jenny Nguyen

Possible T-Shirt Slogans

NOTE -- please don't take the below too seriously, at least some of them, we are in very early stages of our all-important Marc Andreessen special T-shirt design

  1. Got DNA?
  2. Making Life Better, One Part at a Time
  3. BioBricks, the Other Cloning Strategy
  4. Chicks Dig BioBricks
  5. Really Intelligent Design Has Documentation
  6. Using More Than Four Restriction Enzymes Is For Wussies
  7. Parts, Parts, Wonderful Parts
  8. BioBricks: Build It Your Way
  9. Tools of Mass Construction
  10. Real Engineers Do It With Bricks
  11. Got BioBricks?
  12. I Helped Rebuild The Living World And All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt
  13. Show Me Your Bricks!

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