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UK Research Councils to Fund Synthetic Biology Initiatives

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Four UK Research Councils are banding together to fund synthetic biology projects and networks being established at eight universities throughout the UK.
The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the Economic and Social Research Council, and the Arts and Humanities Research Council will provide £900,000 ($1.8 million) to fund networks that will enable researchers to collaborate across institutions and disciplines “to form a true synthetic biology community,” the BBSRC said in a statement.
The council said that the aim of the network is to ensure the UK is at the forefront of synthetic biology research by bringing together bioscientists, engineers, computers scientists, and others that can develop systems for applications, such as power generation, medical products, nanoscale biological computers, and others.
The initial networks unveiled by the BBSRC yesterday are centered on the University of Bristol, Durham University, the University of Edinburgh, University College London & Birbeck College, the University of Nottingham, the University of Oxford, and the University of Sheffield.
“Synthetic biology has huge potential to help us both further our understanding of natural biological systems and also develop new biologically based systems to tackle future challenges,” said Nigel Brown, BBSRC’s director of science and technology. “The four Research Councils working together in this initiative shows that the future of synthetic biology in the UK relies not only on bringing together biologists and engineers but also on ensuring that the societal issues are considered from the start.”
The BBSRC said that it has already set up a group to gain insight into the public’s attitudes in helping set synthetic biology research priorities.

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