EBRC values Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and believes that diverse perspectives and experiences lead to a richer scientific enterprise. EBRC is developing a multi-phased, multi-year action plan to leverage its unique position at the intersection of academia, industry, and government to drive meaningful change. Please complete the survey below that corresponds to your EBRC affiliation, to help drive the development of our DEI action plan.
The survey was developed to require minimal time on your part and can be completed in ten minutes. Responses will be analyzed in aggregate and coupled with an external landscape analysis of the broader field to identify meaningful actions and contributions our EBRC community can make to increase the inclusion and equity of people of color in engineering biology. Your participation is therefore crucial to the development of a successful strategy. We thank you for your guidance and insight.
EBRC also requests any additional comments or feedback from the community regarding our DEI efforts – including questions for the DEI panel on Day 3 of our Annual Meeting (Tue., Apr. 27, 2021). If you would like to offer additional comments related to survey(s) linked above, feedback related to our draft DEI Action Plan, or would like to discuss our efforts with EBRC staff or our DEI consultant, Duane Poe, please fill out the form linked here:
Additional Comments or Feedback
Student or Postdoc? Click here for information about the hackathon!
Please help us assess the roadmap by filling out the surveys linked below related to your research interests. Each survey will guide you through an evaluation of the Engineering Biology milestones and allow you to provide evidence (cite yourself!) associated with progress or barriers. Surveys may be saved and returned to prior to submission.
The information from this assessment will be invaluable to many different audiences: EBRC members, students, and postdocs to assess the utility of our roadmaps; for stakeholders, funders, and policymakers to understand the progress and continued challenges we face; and for the EBRC Roadmapping Working Group, so that we can create more accurate and effective roadmaps in the future.
The product of this assessment will include:
1) Summaries of milestone progress; commentary on technical and non-technical barriers to progress; and description of ethical, legal, social, or environmental considerations impacting milestone progression and opportunities for collaboration with social scientists; and
2) Case studies spotlighting examples of how technical progress is shaping, or is being shaped by, the Application and Impact Sectors (Energy, Health and Medicine, Industrial Biotechnology, Environmental Biotechnology, Food & Agriculture) outlined in Engineering Biology.
Please click the survey links above to begin your contribution. Surveys will close May 28, so fill yours out now! We are looking for responses from all members of the community, including graduate students, postdocs, PIs, industry scientists and leadership, government researchers, and additional stakeholders, to provide their candid assessments of the field.
If there are any questions, comments, or concerns, please email Albert Hinman ([email protected]).
Please join us for workshops to discuss and summarize research progress and barriers in each of Engineering Biology’s four technical themes. Informed by our survey(s), these summaries will detail how technical theme research milestones have progressed since 2019, discuss technical and nontechnical barriers to Goal progression, and address ethical, legal, social, or environmental considerations associated with the Goals.
Please use the links below to learn more and register for a workshop of interest:
For more information about the workshops please email Albert Hinman ([email protected]).
Register for the Assessment of Engineering Biology Student and Postdoc Hackathon: Friday, May 28; 1-3pm EST / 10am-12pm PST! The technical expertise of graduate students and postdocs are critically needed for our Assessment of Engineering Biology survey(s).
This virtual Hackathon event (2 hours) will divide participants into four themed breakout rooms (Engineering DNA, Biomolecular Engineering, Host and Consortia Engineering, and Data Science) for each participant to complete an individual survey. Participants will:
Please register for this event no later than May 26th. Whether you are a first year graduate student or a fifth year postdoc, we greatly need your participation. All EBRC SPA members or graduate students/postdocs in EBRC-member affiliated labs are welcome! All participants will receive contributorship (authorship) credit in Assessment publications and SPA members will be entered into a raffle for free EBRC swag. If you cannot attend this event, please still fill out a survey! These results are going to shape the narrative of how EBRC advocates with policymakers and science funders about the needs of our research field, and we greatly need your voice present. If there are any questions, comments, or concerns, email [email protected]
Synberc was a multi-university research center established in 2006 and funded for ten years with a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to help lay the foundation for synthetic biology. During its 10 years of NSF support, Synberc made important early contributions to the development of the field of synthetic biology through research from members’ labs, interactions between academic and industry members, and broad-impact activities to support socially responsible innovation. At the conclusion of Synberc’s grant period, the Engineering Biology Research Consortium (EBRC) was founded. Many of the key activities established by Synberc have been adopted, improved, and continued by EBRC. EBRC is continuing to develop additional new activities and programs to support and sustain the impact of research, products, discoveries, and ideas from the synthetic biology community.
Synberc’s mission was threefold:
Just as electrical engineers have made it possible to assemble computers from standardized parts (hard drives, memory cards, motherboards, and so on), Synberc envisioned a day when biological engineers systematically assembled biological components such as sensors, signals, pathways, and logic gates to build bio-based systems that solve real-world problems in health, energy, and the environment.
Synberc researchers applied engineering principles to biology to develop tools to improve how fast — and how well — synthetic biologists could go through the design-test-build cycle. These included smart fermentation organisms that can sense their environment and adjust accordingly, and multiplex automated genome engineering, or MAGE, designed for large-scale programming and evolution of cells. Synberc also pursued the discovery of applications that would lead to significant public benefit, such as synthetic artemisinin, an anti-malaria drug that costs less and is more effective than former plant-derived treatment.
In 2006, motivated by the possibility that microbes could be systematically engineered to produce virtually any product from sugar, a group of leading synthetic biologists successfully proposed Synberc to the National Science Foundation. Synberc was a ten-year multi-institutional research project working to lay the foundations for the field of synthetic biology which was emerging at the time. Synberc grew a trusted network of academic researchers working on foundational tools and technologies with a research program that created the enabling tools and technologies that have given rise to many bio-based applications. Synberc’s integrated Policy & Practices group developed and promoted leading examples of responsible synthetic biology research and application in four areas: biosafety and biosecurity; environmental applications and regulation; ownership, sharing and innovation; and community and leadership development. Synberc also built a robust industry partnership that includes nearly 50 small and large companies, non-profits, and industry associations.
With its federal funding ending in 2016, Synberc called upon the federal government to work with academic and industrial researchers to launch a national initiative in engineering biology and thus the Engineering Biology Research Consortium (EBRC) was launched to sustain and coordinate federal investments, coordinate regulatory and safety policies, catalyze public-private partnerships, and encourage education programs to create leaders in biotechnology practice and policy.
Synberc’s research programs focused on projects that developed the foundational understanding and technologies needed to routinely build large numbers of useful biological systems from standard interchangeable parts. Synberc also developed a set of collaborative, cross-cutting testbed projects that drove the development of tools and technologies, and provided proof of principle in building complex applications for real-world problems.
Synberc’s research program focused on the development of:
PARTS – The most basic unit in the design of synthetic biological systems
DEVICES – Engineered genetic objects that are designed to function under specified conditions, and that can be created by combining parts
CHASSIS – Host cells that are designed to run a genetic program.
PRACTICES – Policies, procedures and ways of thinking about ethical, legal and social issues, as well as safety and security.
TESTBEDS – Synberc developed several testbeds to test the integration of Parts, Devices, Chassis and Practices into an integrated application to solve a particular societal challenge. These testbeds ranged from tumor-destroying bacteria to chemical-producing microbes to nitrogen-fixing plants. Many of these testbeds were inspired by industry needs.
Synberc’s specific goals were to:
In addition to the thrusts and testbeds highlighted above, Synberc developed a core of cross-cutting research that provided foundational tools and technologies to advance synthetic biology internally and externally. These projects include automated DNA construction, models and design, safety and security, and registries and repositories.
Synberc facilitated the development of a number of research resources for the synthetic biology community. These resources can be accessed on the EBRC Resources page.
J. L. “Clem” Fortman is a synthetic biologist with a long standing interest in biodefense. He is currently a staff member at the EBRC, and was formerly a technical analyst for synthetic biology with ANSER providing support to the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Chemical and Biological Defense, where he previously served two years as an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science and Technology Policy Fellow. He is also a former Fellow with the Emerging Leader in Biosecurity Initiative at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for Health Security. Clem is a classically trained microbial physiologist with a PhD in microbiology from the University of Minnesota. He spent 6 years as a postdoc in the University of California, Berkeley (UCB) Department of Chemical Engineering where he gained his expertise in synthetic biology. He is a founder of the introductory College-Level Experience in Microbiology (iCLEM) program at UCB, an educational outreach program for under resourced high school students, as well as Lygos, a San Francisco Bay area synthetic biology company. His career in biodefense was stimulated by his time as an enlisted man in the US Army where he served in a number of different roles including assistant Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Non-Commissioned Officer for the Headquarters and Service Battery of the 1st Battalion 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment.