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What will synthetic biology and bioengineering mean for our future?

Human genome editing, 3D-printed replacement organs and artificial photosynthesis – the field of bioengineering offers great promise for tackling the major challenges that face our society. But as well as the opportunities, they may also present some significant risks to our society, our economy and our future.

Rapid developments in the field of synthetic biology and its associated tools and methods, including more widely available gene editing techniques, have substantially increased our capabilities for bioengineering – the application of principles and techniques from engineering to biological systems, often with the goal of addressing ‘real-world’ problems.

An international team of researchers has recently completed a horizon scan of the field, capturing perspectives of industry, innovators, scholars, and the security community in the UK and US on what they view as the major emerging issues in the field.



Prof. Johnathan Napier, Research Leader, Rothamsted Research

Dr Jenny Molloy, Coordinator, Synthetic Biology Strategic Research Initiative, Cambridge Synthetic Biology, University of Cambridge

Dr Christian R. Boehm, Research Affiliate, Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, University of Cambridge


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