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Science Forum: Building a community to engineer synthetic cells and organelles from the bottom-up

Category: Perspective article
  • Who this content is intended for:¬†everyone
  • Keywords:¬†synthetic cell research, bottom-up synthetic biology, engineering, organelles, community, article

This perspective paper, published in eLife in 2021, provides an overview of research into synthetic cells, reviewing the philosophy of the field and its past achievements, recent progress and bottlenecks, as well as perspectives and the community of researchers.

Abstract: Employing concepts from physics, chemistry and bioengineering, ‘learning-by-building’ approaches are becoming increasingly popular in the life sciences, especially with researchers who are attempting to engineer cellular life from scratch. The SynCell2020/21 conference brought together researchers from different disciplines to highlight progress in this field, including areas where synthetic cells are having socioeconomic and technological impacts. Conference participants also identified the challenges involved in designing, manipulating and creating synthetic cells with hierarchical organization and function. A key conclusion is the need to build an international and interdisciplinary research community through enhanced communication, resource-sharing, and educational initiatives.