CHE.496/2008/Schedule/Social implications

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CHE.496: Biological Systems Design Seminar

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Social implications

  • Discussion leader: Eyad

  • The promises and perils of synthetic biology link

Purpose - to overview synthetic biology and discuss the risks and benefits of the field and putting it into context of other sciences.

- The article begins by overviewing what Synthetic biology is and explains some of the process of how its done. The author goes on to talk about how synth bio is noisy and has problems but as we've read before the 3 goals need to be decoupling abstraction and standardization. the author goes on to talk about the possible risk of accidental release. There are guidelines to prevent this from happening but there is always a chance it could still occur, whether it be a benign cell that turns out to have maleffects on the environment or a virulent cell that does as expected. This idea of the cell not acting as expected goes into the idea that sure we may know what a bio brick does but when all the biobricks are put together there may be different outcomes then expected. To finish off the risks of synthetic bio the misuse of cells is said to be a problem and personally I think restrictions will have to be very stringent for terrorists not to have easy access to bio bricks for misuse.
- All these things mentioned in the article are nothing new, but a discussion on what our morale obligation as the scientist is would be good to have with the group. are we leading ourselves down a path of no return with accidental releases of virulent cells? or do we really have nothing to worry about.

  • DNA synthesis and biological security link

-Purpose - to discuss the needs of government to ensure safety and for the scientists and industry to be able to continue research in the field of synthetic bio in a reasonable and affordable way. -I feel similarly about this article as with the promises and peril in that the article does not necesarily teach us anything new, but i would like to discuss as a group how people feel about how much restriction there should be on synthetic biology if at all.