AUG 21, 2013 6:00 AM PDT

You Can and Must Understand Synthetic Biology

Speaker
  • Distinguished Research Scientist, Autodesk Inc., Faculty, Singularity University
    Biography
      Autodesk Distinguished Research Andrew Hessel excels at building bridges and catalyzing change. He is a trend-spotter in life science and helps individuals and organizations better understand and prepare for a future of accelerating innovation. He is also the co-founder of the Pink Army Cooperative, the world's first cooperative biotechnology company, which is aiming to produce open source viral therapies for cancer. Trained in microbiology and genetics, Andrew has continually worked at the forefront of genomics, first to read and comprehend bacterial, human, and other genomes and more recently to write them. He believes the technology that makes this possible, know as synthetic biology, is revolutionary and that it will eventually surpass information technology (IT) as an economic engine and driver of societal change. He is an advocate of open source genetic engineering and sees DNA technologies growing to resemble the software industry as they continue to evolve. He speaks widely on topics that include cells as living computers, life science as an emerging digital industry, and biological safety and security.

    Abstract

    A 2013 survey conducted by the Woodrow Wilson Synthetic Biology Project found that 75% of adults have heard just a little or nothing at all about synthetic biology, figures that were virtually unchanged since 2009. Meanwhile, the field, like DNA sequencing and systems biology before it, is growing in technological sophistication at a tremendous rate and disrupting conventional ideas and mechanisms in research, development, security and economics. It's like computers all over again, only in a different and more controversial medium ¬- life. This talk will introduce synthetic biology to a broad audience by comparing it to the evolution of computing and information technologies; describe key individuals, breakthroughs, and resources from recent years; and provide a future forward perspective based on trends and comparisons. By the the end of talk, the listener should feel a) confident that they have a basic understanding of synthetic biology; and b) some appreciation of the importance of the field to continued global technological and economic progress - if not the continued existence of the human species.


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