SynBERC:Training group/2007 site visit

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NSF Site Visit/SynBERC Retreat schedule


Here is a detailed schedule of times and locations (subject to change).

Tuesday 2/20
Wednesday 2/21
Thursday 2/22
Friday 2/23
Saturday 2/24
Sunday 2/25
PIs: prep for review
students arrive
Student session: Standards discussion
PIs: Answer questions
and time for small groups to meet (optional)
Panel: Implications & Applications of Synth Biology
group lunch
group lunch
group lunch
group lunch
PIs: prep for review
SLC meets with students
Poster session and student SWOT
group dinner: goals for retreat/onsite
working dinner
Dinner talk and discussion with Roy Curtiss - abstract here
Dinner on own
PIs arrive
PI planning time
SLC planning time
PIs: prepare answers
Student informal gathering

Student Discussion Sessions

Weds, Feb 21, afternoon: Discussion on SynBERC itself

We need to give student feedback to NSF regarding SynBERC, based on this SWOT template. This feedback falls into 4 categories listed below.


  • What is SynBERC good at?


  • What issues does SynBERC need to work on?


  • Where could SynBERC make an impact?


  • What problems can you foresee for SynBERC?

Thurs, Feb 22, morning: Discussion on standards

Given that we are all getting together, it would likely be useful to discuss standards in synthetic biology. See previous discussions on standardization.

We need discussion leaders for each of the thrusts below.


  • Where should part-part junctions be located?
    • Promoter boundaries are not fixed currently


  • Under what operating conditions should devices be characterized?
  • What are the common signal carriers for
    • transcripion-based devices
    • translation-based devices
    • post-translational devices
  • What are good reporters for characterization?


  • What strains of E. coli should we use?
  • What strains of yeast?
  • What would an ideal chassis look like?

Testbed systems

Human practice

  • What is the SynBERC "Human Practices" approach?
  • How is it different from a standard ELSI (Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications) model?
  • What should collaboration look like among biology, ethics, and the human sciences?
  • What are the ethical/safety/security challenges specific to synthetic biology to which we should be attending?


Meeting Logistics


Important! Book your room ASAP to ensure availability and receive the group discount rate of $140.

Woodfin Suites
5800 Shellmound
Emeryville, CA 94608
888-433-9042 or 510-601-5880
Group name: SynBERC
Group rate: $140/night, plus tax
Check-in time: 3:00 pm
Check-out time: 12:00 noon
Cancellation policy: 24 hours
Description: Spacious 1 and 2 bedroom suites with kitchens, separate living and dining areas, and high speed internet access. Amenities include free parking, pool and spa facilities, a fitness center, and free shuttle service.

The hotel will provide free shuttle service to and from the Berkeley West Biocenter at 717 Potter Street. The front desk can arrange a shuttle for you, as needed.

Booking and Paying for Airfare

The center will reimburse only SynBERC-funded out-of-area travelers. Students working in related labs are welcome to attend, although we cannot reimburse them for travel costs.

It's most expeditious to book and pay for your flights directly, then submit your air, hotel, and other receipts to UCB:

Gail Phillips
QB3 Institute
237A Hildebrand, #3220
Berkeley, CA 94720-3220
510-643-9853, or Gail Phillips

Alternatively, UC Berkeley can pay for the airfare directly if you book your flight through our travel agent:

Carlson Wagonlit Travel 800-728-4918
See also:

Important: Carlson Wagonlit must email a copy of the proposed itinerary to Kevin Costa to receive approval before the flight can be booked.


Our closest airport is Oakland Airport, although SFO isn't very far away. (Boston-area folks: JetBlue Flight 477 flies out of Boston at 745p and arrives at OAK at 1130p. Getting back is a little trickier and more expensive.)

  • Austin 11:58, 7 February 2007 (EST): Update: The price for JetBlue 477 is right now $204 and the plane is almost full.

  • Mukunda 12:45, 9 February 2007 (EST): Further Update: For Boston students, flying from Oakland to Boston via O'Hare and leaving Wednesday morning on United is now cheaper and, I would guess, more conveniently timed than JetBlue is now.

Ground transportation and Directions

Oakland airport shuttles include Luxor (510-562-7222, $15.00/person), Bay Porter Express (415-467-1800), and many others.

If you plan to rent a car, here are some directions from the airport to the Woodfin, from the Woodfin to the Berkeley West Biocenter, and from the Oakland Airport to the Berkeley West Biocenter.


Shuttle service between the hotel, the Berkeley West Biocenter (Wed-Fri) and UCB campus (Fri-Sat) will be provided. For those who wish to drive, parking at the Berkeley West Biocenter is free of charge. Parking on the UCB campus (Fri-Sat) requires a permit. Please let Kate Spohr know if you will need a permit.