Over £40 million investment in three new UK synthetic biology research centres has been announced.
Speaking at a Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) event last week, Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts announced the awards to three of fifteen competing applications. Five-year funding for the three new centres in Bristol, Nottingham and Cambridge/Norwich is provided by the BBSRC along with the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), to stimulate national capacity in synthetic biology research and expertise, and drive commercialisation of related technologies.
The funding is part of the £60 million total investment in synthetic biology announced by the UK government last year (see previous news).
Synthetic biology, described as ‘a revolutionary new way of doing bioscience which applies engineering principles to biology to make new biological parts, devices and systems’ enabled by advances in understanding of DNA and genomic sequences, has a wide range of potential applications, from medicine to energy production.
The Bristol Centre for Synthetic Biology (BrisSynBio), which receives £13.6 million, will focus on applications that create biologically-based products such as new antibiotics, vaccines, and tailored cell-based delivery systems for complex therapeutics such as anti-cancer drugs. Professor Dek Woolfson, who will be Director of the new Centre, said: "It will now allow us to begin some extremely exciting multi-disciplinary and adventurous new research programmes".
The other two centres in Nottingham and Cambridge/Norwich will focus on sustainable production systems for important chemicals and plant sciences, respectively.