iGEM: the Future is Bright for Science

The article was first published on BioByDesign, a student blog for synthetic biology.

In the corner of a cavernous convention hall, the FBI hands out business cards. Nearby, someone is tested for Zika virus and a six-foot praying mantis weaves between the tables. High-school students are explaining genome editing to college graduates and Australians are teaching Austrians about a tiny robot powered by E. coli.

It could only be iGEM.

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Debate photo 1

“Should we synthesise human genomes?” – a few photos

In June, I chaired an event co-organised by the Synthetic Biology CDT and Oxfordshire Science Festival. Four distinguished panellists discussed the ethical and scientific dilemma, “Should we synthesise human genomes?”

It was the hottest day of the year but everyone stayed awake and, aided by an excellent discussion with the audience, the panellists each crafted a fascinating argument. The motion was passed – but not without caveats!

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“Should we synthesise human Genomes?” – Debate at the Oxfordshire Science Festival

I’ll be chairing an exciting panel discussion this month at the Oxfordshire Science Festival. Join us to discuss the ethics of genome synthesis and hear the opinions of some of the leading figures in Synthetic Biology. The debate is on Tuesday 20th June at 6pm in the Oxford Town Hall. See below for tickets!

Marianne Talbot is a bioethicist and Director of Studies in Philosophy at the University of Oxford Department for Continuing Education.

Piers Millett is a Senior Research Fellow at the Future of Humanity Institute, where he focuses on pandemic and deliberate disease and the implications of biotechnology.

Justina Robson is a science fiction author. Her novel Natural History, was reviewed by The Guardian: “clarity of vision now demonstrates itself as her major asset, making her one of thevery best of the new British hard SF writers.”

Robert Smith is a sociologist of science and technology. His work explores the social and ethical dimensions of the biosciences, primarily in relation to science policy, research funding and laboratory science.

You can find tickets at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/should-we-synthesise-human-genomes-tickets-34274791825.