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Debating the science and ethics of synthetic biology

The tower of the Wills Memorial Building

The tower of the Wills Memorial Building

Press release issued: 6 November 2012

The science and ethics of synthetic biology and what it means for the UK will be the subject of a Royal Society of Chemistry debate to be streamed live to the Great Hall of the Wills Memorial Building at the University of Bristol on Wednesday 14 November.

The panel, which includes Dr Helena Paul, Co-director of Econexus, Professor Robert Edwards, Chief Scientist of the Food and Environment Research Agency,  Daisy Ginsberg, synthetic biology writer and commentator and Lionel Clarke, Chairman of the UK Synthetic Biology Roadmap Coordination Group, will take questions from the audience in Bristol and will respond to followers' questions on Twitter.  The whole event will be webcast live and available to watch online.

For better or worse, synthetic biology is featuring more and more often in the media as scientists make new advances that attract headlines.  News stories highlight some of the many ways in which synthetic biology could improve people's lives – from bio-energy and chemicals all the way through to drug delivery and regenerative medicine.  But increased media attention also raises important issues around ethics, regulation and public acceptance.

The event – a collaboration between the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Biochemical Society, BioCentre and the University of Bristol – aims to stimulate discussion and inspire clear thinking about synthetic biology by bringing bring together senior members of the scientific community from industry and academia, along with policy makers to explore some of the questions and perceptions surrounding the subject.

Synthetic Biology: Challenges and Opportunities for the UK takes place in London on Wednesday 14 November with a live video link to the Great Hall of the Wills Memorial Building.  Following an introduction at 5.45 pm, the live feed will open at 6pm.  The Bristol event will be chaired by Professor Dek Woolfson of Bristol's School of Chemistry.  The event is free and open to all; please note booking is required.