SYNENERGENE

SYNENERGENE is a knowledge mobilization and learning project supported by the supported by the European Commission under the 7th Framework Programme. The project aims to foster responsible research and innovation (RRI) in synthetic biology through establishing an open dialogue between stakeholders concerning synthetic biology’s potential benefits and risks, and by exploring possibilities for its collaborative shaping on the basis of public participation. Find out more about the full programme here. As part of this programme we are collaborating with researchers from BrisSynBio to deliver a series of science cafés and produce a piece of participatory theatre exploring the role that synthetic biology may play in our future lives.

Invincible

Invincible is a participatory theatre production produced by Kilter in partnership with researchers from BrisSynBio. This is an important new play, commissioned to feed into a critical debate as scientists break new ground daily.

Set in a modern family house in a fictional future, the performance will immerse students in the very possible personal and family dilemmas that might arise as a result of this new area of science influencing our lives. The performance centres on Jasmine: a bright student with a natural inclination to kick against authority, who has undergone a synthetic treatment that her grandmother pioneered.

Each performance sets the groundwork for a 30min discussion with the cast and researchers from BrisSynBio. We have also developed an optional one-hour workshop and resource pack for teachers to run with classes prior to the performance.

Performances will run from Monday to Friday starting on the 20th February to 4th March 2017 (excluding Sundays). We are specifically targeting schools and young people aged 14 – 18, please contact David Owen (david.owen@bristol.ac.uk) if you are interested in taking part.

Science Cafés

A science café, simply put, is a talk or conversation led by a scientist about their research that takes place in an informal setting. See below for further details about the events that are taking, or have taken, place as part of this project.

Antibiotic discovery in the abyss
Wed 25 January, 2017
Microbes are growing increasingly resistant to antibiotics, creating a global public health issue of immediate concern. Over half of all current clinically used antibiotics are derived from, or inspired by, natural products. During this event, researchers will outline a current major research project that seeks to identify new antimicrobials from microorganisms that live on the seabed of the Atlantic Ocean. 

Altering plants, microbes and people
Wed 23 November, 2016
The emerging discipline of synthetic biology may be applied to a range of sectors, from using microorganisms as factories for food and fuel, smart therapeutics, improved crops and even altered humans. Should we embrace the potential of these new technologies? Or is there more cause for concern? Join researchers from BrisSynBio to discuss these important issues.

Better Humans? - Synthetic proteins for a synthetic biology: fitter, faster, stronger
Wed 5 October, 2016
What does a natural protein look like, and how does its structure relate to the underlying chemistry that defines them and the biological functions that drive their evolution. In this talk we will explain the concept of the dark matter of protein space; that is, the protein structures and functions that nature has overlooked. We will also look at how biochemists and computer scientists are designing new proteins from scratch, and how we might use this to explore and exploit this dark matter.

Do scientists dream of synthetic sheep?
Tue 6 September, 2016
We are in the middle of a molecular biology revolution, as our ability to manipulate, understand and design biological systems is increasing rapidly. As experiments become cheaper, faster and more reliable such power may become widely accessible – and of course, with great power comes great responsibility. What are these biological systems and what kind of things might we want to do with them?

Lab grown blood becomes a reality
Mon 29 February, 2016
University researchers are growing blood in the laboratory; work that will have potentially profound effects for patients needing regular transfusions, or rare types of donated blood in the future. Learn how scientists aim to use this blood to study rare diseases, engineer new therapeutic qualities by using synthetic biology, and offer an alternative to patients with certain conditions.