Our Synthetic Biology Future Science Platform is positioning Australia to play a role in one of the fastest growing areas of modern science so that we can understand global developments and, where appropriate, contribute to advances in areas including healthcare, industrial biotechnology, biosecurity, agriculture and food research.

The challenge

Entering new territory

The ability to design and fabricate biological systems has been enhanced over the past decade with significant advances in science and technologies in all of the fields involved in Synthetic Biology (SynBio).

SynBio is essentially the application of engineering principles to biology. It involves the design and construction of biological systems and devices, usually based on DNA-encoded componentry, and their application for useful purposes. Components include DNA, RNA, and proteins (commonly enzymes); these are used to build genetic circuits encoding cellular machinery, which may be applied either in vivo (inside cells) or ex vivo (in test tubes or other non-cellular environments).

It is a highly interdisciplinary science, drawing on biology, engineering, and computer science, as well as many other fields, and has potential applications in areas as diverse as manufacturing, human health, agriculture and protecting ecosystems.

In Australia, there are a number of research and development projects in the design or implementation phase across agricultural, industrial and environmental applications, however, we have been lacking a central resource to coordinate and foster research in the field.

Our response

A coordinated approach

CSIRO is investing in the creation of a Synthetic Biology Future Science Platform (SynBio FSP), one of six new FSPs which will underpin innovation in health and biology, resources, agriculture and manufacturing, and have the potential to support the reinvention and creation of new industries and new jobs for Australia. Not only will the FSPs invest in research and delivery of solutions, they're also an investment in the next crop of researchers.

SynBio is a rapidly expanding multi-billion dollar industry with significant potential for generating societal benefits and commercial opportunities; it will drive innovation in a large number of diverse industries going into the future. Because of this, Australia must develop a strong SynBio 'research ecosystem' or it risks losing competitiveness.

SynBio's transformative nature brings with it technical and social risks; the SynBio FSP seeks to understand and monitor these risks and to maintain a dialogue with the public about progress in the field. The SynBio FSP is built on a philosophy of responsible development of SynBio technology, striving for ethical and socially acceptable outcomes.

CSIRO is uniquely placed to provide national leadership to coherently catalyse innovation, develop capability, and avoid fragmentation to advance Australia's SynBio capacity and competitiveness in a responsible way.

Future Science Platform

Our mission is to collaboratively develop capacity in SynBio within CSIRO and across Australia through the following aims:

  1. Build the foundational capabilities to advance SynBio research
  2. Drive national coordination by making these foundational capabilities widely available to the broad research community, governments, and industry
  3. Build strong partnerships, collaborations, and connections across the innovation sector to develop novel products and applications responsibly.

The SynBio FSP will work with its partner organisations, including Synthetic Biology Australasia, to help build a collaborative Australia-wide community of practice in SynBio

Our Application Domains

SynBio FSP research is represented by six distinct research areas:

Foundation Technologies: build tools, technologies, and infrastructure required to deliver SynBio solutions.

Industrial Biotechnology: deliver substantial and disruptive technologies to our chemical and fibre industries.

Environment and Biocontrol: revolutionise our capacity to manage and re-mediate our environment.

Health and Medicine: advance medical breakthroughs and deliver new health innovations for humans and animals.

Maximising Impact: examine the social, ethical and legal institutional framework considerations required to deliver SynBio solutions.

Agriculture and Food: re-imagine the future of agriculture by accelerating the design of next generation yeast and crop production platforms.

Interested in helping us further this research?

We seek research collaborators with complementary skills so we can work together for stronger results.

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