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It’s Alive, But is it Life: Synthetic Biology and the Future of Creation

Saturday, June 4, 2016
12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

For decades, biologists have read and edited DNA, the code of life. Revolutionary developments are giving scientists the power to write it. Instead of tinkering with existing life forms, synthetic biologists may be on the verge of writing the DNA of a living organism from scratch. In the next decade, according to some, we may even see the first synthetic human genome. Join a distinguished group of synthetic biologists, geneticists and bioengineers who are edging closer to breathing life into matter.

This program is part of the Big Ideas Series, made possible with support from the John Templeton Foundation.


Robert KrulwichRadio and Television Journalist

Robert Krulwich is co-host of Radiolab, WNYC Radio’s Peabody Award-winning program about ‘big ideas’, now one of public radio’s most popular shows. It is carried on more than 500 radio stations and its podcasts are downloaded over 5 million times each month.

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George ChurchGeneticist

George Church is professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School and director of PersonalGenomes.org, providing the world’s only open-access information on human Genomic, Environmental, and Trait data (GET). His 1984 Harvard Ph.D. included the first methods for direct genome sequencing, molecular multiplexing, and barcoding.

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Drew EndySynthetic Biologist

Drew Endy is an assistant professor of Bioengineering at Stanford. His Stanford research team develops genetically encoded computers and redesigns genomes. Endy co-founded the BioBricks Foundation as a public-benefit charity supporting free-to-use standards and technology that enable the engineering of biology.

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Tom KnightTechnologist

Tom Knight spent most of his career in computer science and electrical engineering at MIT, before playing a major role in creating the field of synthetic biology. In 1996, he seeded interest in the field at DARPA, and built a molecular biology laboratory in the MIT computer science department.

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Pamela SilverSynthetic Biologist

Pamela Silver seeks to reprogram life for improved health and sustainability. Recently, she engineered gut microbes to report on animal health and is the co-creator of the Bionic Leaf.

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