Northwestern Hosts International Synthetic Biology Workshop

Two-day workshop promotes knowledge sharing, collaboration with experts from the UK

Some of the leading minds in synthetic biology assembled in Chicago last month for an international synthetic biology workshop, co-hosted by Northwestern University and the UK Science and Innovation Network (SIN).

The two-day workshop, held February 12 and 13 on Northwestern’s Chicago campus, brought together experts from regional universities and the United Kingdom in the field of synthetic biology, which explores the design and construction of new biological systems help solve problems in areas like health, energy, and materials.

Josh LeonardRepresentatives attending the workshop included a delegation of leading UK synthetic biologists, members of the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science assistant professors of chemical and biological engineering Josh Leonard, Keith Tyo, and Michael Jewett also participated in the event. 

The two-day workshop consisted of a series of small group discussions and lectures. Topics focused on emerging centers of synthetic biology research outside of established hubs in the San Francisco Bay Area and Boston, training graduate students and post-docs for the field, and ways for researchers in the Midwest to collaborate with the UK synthetic biology community in the future.  

“We identified actionable strategies for collaborating between our nations to realize the new models of training and commercialization that will be required to develop products and technologies that benefit society,” said Leonard, who co-organized the event with UK SIN. 

The Chicago workshop followed Boston and San Francisco in UK SIN’s three-city tour designed to strengthen ties with the United States in areas of research, commercialization, and training by sharing knowledge and establishing new partnerships. 

Located within the British Consulate-General, Boston, UK SIN is a global network committed to science diplomacy and fostering UK/US collaborations in science and innovation.

Listen to the BBC’s The Naked Scientists podcast featuring Josh Leonard.