Reviewing the IET-SynbiCITE Engineering Biology Conference 2016

  • Posted on 17 January, 2017

December 2016 saw the 1st International Conference on Engineering Biology take place in London. The conference was the first of its kind, co-founded by SynbiCITE and the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET). Presenters and exhibitors shared cutting-edge R&D, applications and products, illustrating how these are being adopted and used in industry and looking at the potential for future advances. All presentations were recorded by for global viewing on demand, highlighting the ever growing interest and relevance of this industry.

Approximately 320 attendees were richly rewarded for their attendance, hearing world experts share their knowledge and insights. There were over 50 presentations by many notable speakers and two clear highlights of the event were the keynote talks given by Professor Chris Voigt from MIT and Professor Jay Keasling from UC Berkeley. Professor Keasling focused on the metabolic engineering of microorganisms for degradation of environmental contaminants, waste remediation, and environmentally friendly manufacturing. While Professor Voigt focused on reprogramming of bacterial organisms to perform coordinated, complex tasks for pharmaceutical and industrial applications.

25 posters were presented with some receiving awards, including:

  • £20k Gene Theatre from CyBio (with £10k consumables and training) for the ‘Best Paper’
  • £2k SynbiCITE Innovation Vouchers awarded to the 6 ‘Best Posters’
  • £1k SynbiCITE Innovation Vouchers awarded to 5 iGEM Team posters
    • The additional prize of ‘Best iGEM Poster’ was awarded to Sheffield University, who received a Bento Lab ‘lab in a box’

Crucially, this event provided a focal point for the international synthetic biology community to meet and build relationships with a broad range of companies, including those in engineering, that could adopt engineering biology in their manufacturing processes.

The success and importance of this conference is reflected in the announcement by the IET of a new open-access journal focused on the application of engineering science to the design of biological devices and systems, Engineering Biology. Professor Richard Kitney, co-Director of SynbiCITE, is Founding Editor and co-Editor-in-Chief. The first issue will be published in May 2017 and submissions are now open.

The conference will return to London next year. Full copies of the papers presented at the conference will be published in The Engineering Biology Conference proceedings shortly.