Sunday, December 29, 2013

Synbio Reformulates the Traditional Scientific Method

Synthetic biology continues to be one of the most wide-spread trends reshaping the conduct of science.

Lauded as the potential ‘transistor of the 21st century’ given its transformative possibilities, synthetic biology is the design and construction of biological devices and systems. It is highly multi-disciplinary, linking biology, engineering, functional design, and computation.

One of the key application areas is metabolic engineering, working with cells to greatly expand their usual production of substances that can then be used for energy, agricultural, and pharmaceutical purposes.

Since the nature of synthetic biology is pro-actively creating de novo biological systems, organisms, and capacities (the opposite of the esprit of the passive characterization of phenomena for which the original scientific method was developed), synbio is reformulating the traditional scientific method.

While it is true that optimizing genetic and regulatory processes within cells can be partially construed under the scientific method, the overall scope of activity and methods are much broader.

Innovating de novo organisms and functionality requires a significantly different scientific methodology than that supported by the traditional scientific method. This includes computational modeling and simulation, engineering practices, feedback loops, automated bio-printing, and a re-conceptualization of science as an endeavor of characterizing and creating.

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