Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

UK Plans to Award $124M for Synthetic Biology Centers

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The UK is preparing a program that will use as much as £80 million ($124.4 million) to create a network of multidisciplinary synthetic biology research centers (SBRCs) that will serve as cores for research projects and provide scientists with training and resources.

The funding program is a response to the government's Synthetic Biology Roadmap from last year, which recommended that such a network be created to help boost the UK's synthetic biology capabilities.

Funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the program will include two funding calls, one in 2013-2014 and another in 2014-2015, BBSRC said yesterday. Each funding call will establish up to three SBRCs.

The funders plan to award a total of £10 million in capital funding for each of the two phases, and each phase will provide up to an additional £2 million per year to each center for five years.

This network of SBRCs will be tasked with creating and sustaining a program of synthetic biology research in strategic areas; creating a collaborative culture and providing a supportive environment and necessary equipment and facilities for multidisciplinary research projects; advancing new research techniques; and boosting the number of postdocs and technical staff that are trained in key areas.

The centers will be expected to focus on strategic areas that are relevant to one or more industrial sector, such as the life sciences, medicine and healthcare, energy, agriculture and food, the environment, and diagnostics. They also are expected to "provide the essential equipment and facilities required to enable adoption and uptake of synthetic biology approaches and, where appropriate, make this available to the wider community," said BBSRC.

The SBRCs also will bring together researchers working on experimental science with others who are studying the ethical, legal, and social issues related to synthetic biology.

The BBSRC said the first of these funding calls is expected to open this June.

The Scan

Latent HIV Found in White Blood Cells of Individuals on Long-Term Treatments

Researchers in Nature Microbiology find HIV genetic material in monocyte white blood cells and in macrophages that differentiated from them in individuals on HIV-suppressive treatment.

Seagull Microbiome Altered by Microplastic Exposure

The overall diversity and the composition at gut microbiome sites appear to coincide with microplastic exposure and ingestion in two wild bird species, according to a new Nature Ecology and Evolution study.

Study Traces Bladder Cancer Risk Contributors in Organ Transplant Recipients

In eLife, genome and transcriptome sequencing reveal mutation signatures, recurrent somatic mutations, and risky virus sequences in bladder cancers occurring in transplant recipients.

Genes Linked to White-Tailed Jackrabbits' Winter Coat Color Change

Climate change, the researchers noted in Science, may lead to camouflage mismatch and increase predation of white-tailed jackrabbits.