Synthetic Biology 101



• PCSBI 2010, New Directions: The Ethics of Synthetic Biology and Emerging Technologies, Washington, D.C. Presidential Comission for the Study of Bioethical Issues. Available here

• Cho, Mildred K., Relman, David A., 2 July 2010, Synthetic “Life,” Ethics, National Security, and Public Discourse, Science, Vol. 329 no. 5987: 38-39. Available here

• IRGC 2010, Policy Brief: Guidelines for the Appropriate Risk Governance of Synthetic Biology, International Risk Governance Council, Geneva. Available here

• WWICS, 4 June 2010, Research Brief 1: Trends in Synthetic Biology Research Funding in the United States and Europe, The Synthetic Biology Project, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Washington, D.C. Available here

• WWICS, 29 November 2010, Synthetic Biology Newsletter, The Synthetic Biology Project, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Washington, D.C. Available here

• ***Directorate-General for Health & Consumers, March 2010, European Commission, Synthetic Biology From Science to Governance, European Commission, Brussels. Available here


• ***European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies to the European Commission, 17 November 2009, Ethics of Synthetic Biology: Opinion No. 25, European Commission, Luxemburg. Available here


• Balmer A., Martin P., 2008, Synthetic Biology: Social and Ethical Challenges, Institute for Science and Society, University of Nottingham. Available here

• Boldt J.,Müller O., 2008, Newtons of the leaves of grass, Nature Biotechnology 4: 387-389. Available here

• ETC Group, 24 January 2008, Venter Institute Builds Longest Sequence of Synthetic DNA (That Doesn't Work). Available here

• Gaskell G., 2008, Beyond the Genome: the Challenge of Synthetic Biology, BioSocieties 3: 3-20.

• IRGC 2008, Concept note: Synthetic Biology: Risk and Opportunities of an emerging field, International Risk Governance Council, Geneva. Available here

• O’Malley M., Powell A., Davies J. F., Calvert J., 2008, Knowledge-making distinctions in synthetic biology, BioEssays 30(1): 57.

• Parens E., Johnston J., Moses J., 2008, Ethical Issues in Synthetic Biology: An Overview of the Debates, The Hastings Center, Garrison, New York.

• Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, January 2008, Postnote – Synthetic Biology, January 2008, N° 298. [Available here] (

• Preston Christopher J., 2008, Synthetic Biology: Drawing a Line in Darwin’s Sand, Environmental Values 17: 23-39.

• Rappert B., 2008, The Benefits, Risks, and Threats of Biotechnology, Science and Public Policy 35, no. 1: 1-7.

• Regis E., 2008, What is Life?: Investigating the Nature of Life in the Age of Synthetic Biology, New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

• Russ Zachary N., 2008, Synthetic Biology: Enormous Possibility, Exaggerated Perils, Journal of Biological Engineering 2, no. 7. Available here

• Schmidt M., June 2008, Diffusion of synthetic biology: a challenge to biosafety, Syst Synth Biol. Available here

• Schmidt M., Torgersen H., Ganguli-Mitra A., Kelle A., Deplazes A., Biller-Andorno N., August 2008, Synbiosafe e-conference: online community discussion on the societal aspects of synthetic biology. Available here

• Woolfson A., 2008, Synthetic Life, Daedalus 137, no. 1: 77-83.


• Biller-Andorno N., 2007, Debating the Ethics of Synthetic Biology: Transcending the Current Impasse, Synthetic Biology 3.0 Conference at Zurich, 2007. Available here

• Bugl H. et al., 2007, DNA Synthesis and Biological Security, Nature Biotechnology 25, no. 6: 627-629.

• Editorial, 2007, Meanings of 'Life', Nature 447, no. 7148: 1031-1032.

• Editorial, 2007, Patenting the Parts, Nature Biotechnology 25, no. 8: 822.

• Engaging Science: Thoughts, Deeds, Analysis and Action, Ed Jon Turney. 2007. London, Wellcome Trust.

• ETC Group, 2007, Extreme Genetic Engineering, ETC Group Releases Report on Synthetic Biology. Available here

• ETC Group, 2007, Backgrounder: J. Craig Venter Institute’s patent application on World’s First Human-Made Species. Available here

• ETC Group, 2007, Goodbye Dolly, Hello Synthia! J. Craig Venter Institute Seeks Monopoly Patents on World’s First-Ever Human-Made Life. Available here

• Garfinkel M. S., 2007, Synthetic Genomics: Biosafety, Biosecurity, and Governance, Synthetic Biology 3.0 Conference at Zurich, 2007. Available here

• Garfinkel M., Endy D., Epstein G. L., Friedman R. M, 2007, Synthetic Genomics – Options for Governance. Available here

• Gavelin K., Wilson R., and Doubleday R., 2007, Democratic Technologies? The Final Report of the Nanotechnology Engagement Group (NEG), London, Involve.

• Health and Safety Executive [UK], 2007, Synthetic Biology: HSE Horizon Scanning Intelligence Group Short Report. Available here

• Henkel J. and Maurer S. M., The Economics of Synthetic Biology, Molecular Systems Biology 3 (117):1-4. Available here

• IDEA League Summer School, 2007, Synthetics: The Ethics of Synthetic Biology. Available here

• Kaiser J., 2007, Attempt to Patent Artificial Organism Draws Protest, Science 316: 1557.

• Kelle A., 2007, Synthetic Biology & Biosecurity Awareness in Europe, Synbiosafe/ Bradford Science and Technology Report N 9, University of Bradford. Available here

• Kumar S. and Rai A., 2007, Synthetic Biology: the Intellectual Property Puzzle, Texas Law Review 85, no. 1745: 1745-1768. Available here

• Lichtenstein J., Innocence and Syn. Slate, 30 November 2007. Available here

• Maureen A. O’Malley, Calvert J., and Dupré J., 2007, The Study of Societhical Issues in Systems Biology, American Journal of Bioethics 7, no. 4: 67-78. Available here

• Maurer S. and Zoloth L., 2007, Synthesizing Biosecurity, Bulletin of the Atomic Sciences 63, no. 6: 16-18.

• Guatam, M., 2007, Biosecurity Implications of DNA Synthesis and Synthetic Biology, Synthetic Biology 3.0 Conference at Zurich. Available here

• National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB), 2007, Proposed framework for the oversight of dual use life sciences research: strategies for minimizing the potential misuses of research information, Bethesda, MD, National Institutes of Health.

• Rai A., Boyle J., 2007, Synthetic Biology: Caught between Property Rights, the Public Domain, and the Commons, PLoS Biol 13:5 (3): e58. Available here

• Schmidt M., 2007, Framing the Safety and Security Aspect of Synthetic Biology. 2007, Synthetic Biology 3.0 Conference at Zurich. Available here

• von Schomberg R., 2007, From the Ethics of Technology towards an Ethics of Knowledge Policy & Knowledge Assessment, Luxembourg, European Commission.

• Selgelid M. J., 2007, A Tale of Two Studies: Ethics, Bioterrorism, and the Censorship of Science, Hastings Center Report 37, no. 3: 35-43.

• van Est R., de Vriend H., Walhout B., 2007, The world of synthetic biology, Rathenau Institute, The Hague Netherlands. Available here

• Zoloth L., 2007, Hide and Seek: the Ethics of Curiosity and Security in Synthetic Biology. Available here


• Aldhous, P., 20 May 2006, Redesigning Life: Meet the Bio-hackers, New Scientist.

• Bugl H. et al., December 2006, A practical perspective on DNA synthesis and biological security. Available here

• De Vriend H., 2006, Constructing Life – Early social reflections on the emerging field of synthetic biology, Rathenau Institute, Working Document 97, The Hague. Available here

• Check E., 2006, Synthetic biologists try to calm fears, Nature 441, no. 7092: 388-389. Available here

• Editorial, 2006, Policing Ourselves, Nature 441, no. 7092: 383.

• ETC Group, 2006, Global Coalition Sounds the Alarm on Synthetic Biology, Demands Oversight and Societal Debate, ETC Group News Release containing the open letter. Available here

• de Lorenzo, V. et al., 2006, Synthetic Biology. Challenges Ahead, Bioinformatics, Vol. 22 No.2:127–128.

• Maurer, S. M., Lucas K. V. , Terrell S., 10 April 2006, From Understanding to Action. Community-Based Options for Improving Safety and Security in Synthetic Biology, University of California, Berkeley. Available here

• Newcomb, J., Carlson, R., 2006, Aldrich S. Genome synthesis and design futures: implications for the U.S. economy, Cambridge, MA, Bio Economic Research Associates (bio-era). Available here

• NSABB, 2006, Addressing Biosecuirty Concerns Related to the Synthesis of Select Agents, Washington, D.C., National Institutes of Health and Department of Health and Human Services.

• Synbiology, September 2006, An analysis of Synthetic Biology Research in Europe and North America, Final Report on Analysis of Synthetic Biology Sector, Deliverable D11, FP6-2003-NEST-B4 Project 015357. Available here

• Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center (SynBERC), About SynBERC. Available here Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center (SynBERC), Human Practices. Available here

• Tucker J., Zilinskas R., 2006, The Promise and Perils of Synthetic Biology, The New Atlantis Spring: 25-45. Available here

• Zilinskas R., 2006, Technical Barriers to Successful Biological Attacks with Synthetic Organisms, Security and Regulation of Experiments of Concern. A White Paper on the Ethics of Self-Governance in New Scientific Community, Berkeley, Spring: Appendices 8–24. Available here

• Zoloth L., 2006, Ethical Issues in Synthetic Biology: Security and Regulation of Experiments of Concern, in From Understanding to Action: Community-Based Options for Improving Safety and Security in Synthetic Biology, ed. Maurer, Stephen M., Lucas, Keith V., and Terrell, Starr. Berkeley, University of California Berkeley, Richard & Rhoda Goldman School of Public Policy. Available here


• Bhutkar A., 2005, Synthetic Biology: Navigating the Challenges Ahead, Journal of Biolaw and Business, Vol. 8, No. 2: 19-29. Available here

• Check E., 2005, Designs on Life. Nature 438: 417-418.

• Check E., 2005, Synthetic Biologists Face Up to Security Issues. Nature 436: 894-895.

• Church G., 2005, Let us go forth and safely multiply. Nature, Vol. 438: 423. Available here

• European Commission, 2005, Synthetic Biology: Applying Engineering to Biology, Report of a NEST High-Level Expert Group, Report 21796. Available here / Also available in French

• European Commission, October 2005, Reference Document on Synthetic Biology, 2005/2006-NEST-PATHFINDER Initiatives. Available here

• Sharp P., 2005, 1918 Flu and Responsible Science, Science. Vol. 310(5745):17. Available here

• Skipper M., 2005, All Aboard the Synthetic Biology Train, Nature 6, no. 6: 7.

• Somerville M. A., Atlas R. M., 2005, Ethics: a Weapon to Counter Bioterrorism, Science 307: 1881-1882.

• SynBiology, 2005, SYNBIOLOGY - An Analysis of Synthetic Biology Research in Europe and North America, European Commission Framework Programme 6 Reference Contract 15357 (NEST). Available here

• Tepfer M., 2005, How Synthetic Biology Can Avoid GMO-Style Conflicts, Nature 437: 476. Available here

• Tumpej T. et al., 2005, Characterization of the Reconstructed 1918 Spanish Influenza Pandemic Virus, Science Vol. 310(5745):77-80. Available here


• Church M. G., June 2004, A synthetic biohazard non-proliferation proposal. Available here

• Glass R. I., 2004, Perceived Threats and Real Killers, Science 304: 927.

• Rabinow P., 10 June 2004, Assembling Ethics in an Ecology of Ignorance. proceedings from the First International Meeting on Synthetic Biology held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

• US Department of Energy, 2004, Biological and Environmental Research Advisory Committee, Synthetic Genomics: Technologies and Impact.

• Wilsdon J. and Willis R., 2004, See-Through Science: Why Public Engagement Needs to Move Upstream, London, Demos.


• Caplan A. L. and Magnus D., 2003, New Life Forms: New Threats, New Possibilities, Hastings Center Report 33, no. 6: 7.

• Central Intelligence Agency, 2003, Directorate of Intelligence, The Darker Bioweapons Future, OTI SF 2003-108. Available here

• Committee on Research Standards and Practices to Prevent the Destructive Application of Biotechnology, National Research Council, 2004, Biotechnology Research in an Age of Terrorism. 2003. Washington D.C., National Academy of Sciences.


• Cho M. K. et al., 10 December 1999, Ethical Considerations in Synthesizing a Minimal Genome, Science, 2087–2090. Available here