Monday, November 15, 2010

Entering the era of living machines

Imagine being able to program an innocuous organism to clean up hazardous waste. Or generate a clean, cheap fuel. Or destroy cancer cells.

Emory scientists are among those working at the forefront of synthetic biology – the engineering of biological functions and systems not found in nature. This rapidly accelerating field holds tremendous promise, but raises challenging questions about ethics, security and safety.

Have an interest or concern about synthetic biology? Now is the time to express it. On Nov. 16-17, Emory is hosting a public meeting of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues. (Watch videos of the event by clicking here.) It’s the third and final meeting of the commission before it issues recommendations to President Obama on synthetic biology.

“We look for a good turnout from interested members of the public, as well as teachers, students and practitioners in fields that touch on synthetic biology,” said Emory President James Wagner, vice chair of the commission.

If you are unable to attend, you can still have your say. Written comments on the topic can be emailed to

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