Stanford|Synthetic Biology

Enabling flourishing futures in partnership with life

What is synthetic biology?

Synthetic Biology (SB) explores new forms of engagement with life and living systems. From molecular to ecological, cultural to political, SB is about understanding life's fundamental mysteries and translating knowledge to imagine a biotic civilization that flourishes in partnership with Earth.  

The Stanford Synthetic Biology community enables interdisciplinary activities, supporting an ecosystem of research and learning. Our holistic approach encompasses diverse areas of work, each exploring fundamental questions and possibilities with the ultimate desire of addressing societal needs.

All together now!

Stewart Brand, Stanford Class of 1960 (Biology), wrote, 

"I propose six significant levels of pace and size in the working structure of a robust and adaptable civilization. [...] In a healthy society each level is allowed to operate at its own pace, safely sustained by the slower levels below and kept invigorated by the livelier levels above." (Long Now)

With pace-layer thinking in mind we are exploring and advancing synthetic biology (SB) among and across all aspects of civilization, inclusive of but not limited to biotechnology and bioeconomy.  We also note that intrinsic to pace layers thinking is a bias towards the human, a concept we suspect may evolve along with SB.  Thus, we have adopted a coupled-rings visual metaphor, in place of layers, for now.

SB@Stanford News

Stanford bioengineers host Secretary of State Anthony Blinken for a roundtable discussion on synthetic biology.

May 2024

Professor Sang Yup Lee of KAIST joins us for the inaugural Stanford Frontiers in Synthetic Biology Distinguished Lecture to discuss metabolic engineering for sustainability and health

May 2024

Chris Voigt joins the Synthesis community to discuss tracking engineered microbiomes from space and over decades

Hosted by Stanford BioE Department Colloquium 

May 2024

Dr. Christina Smolke joined the Sustainability Accelerator for an enlightening discussion on the profound impact of synthetic biology on pharmaceutical biomanufacturing and global sustainability.

April 2024 

Jay Daniels, Founding Scientist at Moonlight Bio, shares insights on his journey from academia to industry at SB.Talk.

April 2024 

The Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute, Sarafan Chem-H, and Bio-X seek proposals for the inaugural Synthetic Neuroscience Grant Program to spark new collaborations between neuroscience and synthetic biology researchers across Stanford University. 

February 2024

Stanford Emerging Technology Review launch at the Hoover office in Washington, DC. 

January 202

The second Synthetic Neuroscience Forum was held with talks from Michael Lin and Xiaojing Gao.  Hosted by Sarafan ChEM-H, Bio-X, Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute.

January 2024 

Building Biology student  symposium brought in guest speakers: Patrick Hsu (UCB), Katie Galloway (MIT), Magdalena Zernika-Goetz (Caltech), Neil Shubin (UChicago) 

Hosted by Stanford Genetics and Developmental Biology Training Program

January 2024

The Hoover Institution and Stanford School of Engineering have launched the inaugural edition of the Stanford Emerging Technology Review, which aims to help policymakers understand a range of fast-developing new technologies, from AI and cryptography to robotics and synthetic biology.

December 2023

The first Synthetic Neuroscience Forum was held with Drew Endy and Sergiu Pasca, leading a discussion on the opportunities of synthetic biology in neuroscience. Hosted by Sarafan ChEM-H, Bio-X, Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute.

December 2023 

Stanford Bioengineering Department launches "Engineering Life for Planet Health" faculty search and seeking candidates who align with the department's vision of rapidly advancing large-scale solutions to address critical planetary challenges.

November 2023

Qi Lab develops an ultrasound method for precise control in gene regulation and base editing - both in cells and living animals.

October 2023

Congratulations to Xiaojing Gao, Steven Banik, and Stanley Qi for being awarded NIH High Risk, High Reward program grants for their work in synthetic biology.

October 2023

Mike Jewett kicks off the new school year by facilitating a community discussion at SB.Talk on synthetic biology for sustainability. 

September 2023

Stanford 2023 iGEM team designed and developed Phil's Laberia, an educational video game where students can learn bioengineering wet lab skills.

August 2023

Fischbach Lab provides new insights into how T cells respond to commensal microbes.

August 2023

Qi Lab develops a  CRISPR/Cas9 approach to edit dendritic cells for wound healing

August 2023

Bintu Lab works on high-throughput functional characterization of combinations of transcriptional activators and repressors

August 2023

Endy Lab publishes a paper on engineering tRNA abundances for synthetic cellular systems

Learn from Jenn Brophy and Drew Endy's EdEquityLab x Stanford's Intro to Bioengineering course. Now available online!

July 2023

SB.Talk sparks discussion around synthetic biology at Stanford. Join the conversation in the Shriram Tea Room every other Tuesday 12pm. 

July 2023

Jewett Lab developed a cell-free method to rapidly discover and characterize functional antibodies in under 24 hours. 

July 2023

Qi Lab reports on 'CLIP' (CRISPR for long-fragment integration via pseudovirus) method for stable expression of large transgenes via the knock-in of an integrate-deficient lentivirus.

May 2023

Prof. Alice Ting has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Ting is a Professor of Genetics, of Biology and, by courtesy, of Chemistry. 

May 2023

The inaugural Synthetic Biology for Sustainability Symposium had over 200 attendees representing across schools of Medicine, Engineering,  Sustainability, and H&S.  

May 2023

Synthetic Biology for Sustainability Symposium will take place on May 1.

Hosted by the Deans of the School of Medicine, the School of Engineering, and the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability, this symposium will focus on how we might tackle some of the biggest challenges in sustainability using some of the newest innovations in synthetic biology.  

Fischbach Lab engineered a common skin bacterium, S. epidermidis to produce a tumor antigen.  When applied to mice, it resulted in a potent immune response against a distant tumor.

April 2023

Bintu Lab  leads efforts towards large-scale mapping and mutagenesis of human transcriptional effector domains

April 2023

Stanford Synthetic Biology meets for the first community event of 2023

March 2023

Sattely Lab  discovered 22 enzymes for biosynthesis of limonoids in Citrus and Melia.

January 2023

Prof. Mike Jewett joins Stanford Bioengineering as their newest faculty member.

January 2023

Gao Lab develops new tool -- programmable RNA sensing using ADAR editing in living cells.

October 2022

Biden Administration issued an Executive Order on Advancing Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Innovation for a Sustainable, Safe, and Secure American Bioeconomy. 

September 2022

Does synthetic biology offer anything new? Watch the non-technical conversation with Drew Endy about advancements in synthetic biology and related economic and governance opportunities with the Hoover Institution.

August 2022 

Sergiu Pasca explains how to reverse engineer the human brain by growing organoids.

August 2022

Dr. Alice Cheng of Fischbach Lab & colleagues make human microbiome from scatch.

September 2022

The Bintu lab takes a synthetic approach to understand and program chromatin-mediated gene silencing & activation.

June 2022

Brophy et al. pioneer synthetic genetic circuits in plant roots.

August 2022

Townshend, Kaplan, & Smolke report over 200 new RNA biosensors to potential drug molecules.

July 2022

Endy & McKelvey reflect on synthetic biology's potential impacts for democracy and national security, hosted by Los Alamos National Lab. and moderated in part by Stanford's Prof. Hank Greely.

July 2022

Preparing for and preventing future pandemics.  Two new grants provide key resources 

June 2022

"What is synthetic biology and what is its potential?   These stories explain."  Megan Palmer's WEF Council partners with Faber Futures to explore and elaborate on inclusive futures.

June 2022

"Building a Bottom-Up Bioeconomy," Stanford's Dr. Megan Palmer and colleagues make the case by reimagining industrialization

May 2022

Making With Mushrooms!  17 years later the second-ever issue of Adventures in Synthetic Biology begins to emerge. 

May 2022

"Mother Nature, Bioweapons, & Lab Accidents: Guarding Against the Next Global Biological Catastrophe," Stanford's Freeman Spogli's CISAC welcomes Dr. Jaime Yassif of NTI. March 2022

Prof. Pasca explores how to understand the mysteries of the human mind by growing neural circuits from scratch.

 Jan 2022

Prof. Skylar-Scott  & team explain what must be made real to ultimately print working hearts from scratch.

March 2022

"Who wouldn't want to ride on a Wooly Mammoth?,"  Stanford undergraduates explore dystopian and utopian futures that might arise via resurrecting extinct species.  March 2022

Prof. Ting's  team pioneers LuCID, a genetically-encoded tool for realtime measurement of calcium dynamics in live cells, including neurons and immune cells.

March 2022

Prof. Steinmetz and colleagues pioneer synthetic genomics for understanding the fundamental rules of genome architecture.

March 2022

The New Yorker explores if what biology needs right now is more synthesis.  Prof. Zia chimes in.

February 2022

Prof. Brophy & Dinneny pioneer living Boolean logic in plants for climate resilience.

February 2022

Gao lab pioneers the engineering of protein circuits that let cells talk to each other.

February 2022

Novozymes recognizes Adjunct Prof. Smolke & team with 100,000 DKK prize for sustainable medicines.

February 2022

How can American strengthen its bioeconomy?  Adjunct Prof. Palmer and colleagues chart the path.

February 2022

Can we engineer crops to withstand climate change?  Prof. Brophy makes the case.

January 2022

NY Times explores what's happening and might be possible via synthetic biology.  E.g., it's personal!

November 2021

Megan Palmer, co-chair of World Economic Forum Council on Synthetic Biology, and team release report on synthetic biology.

April 2021

Danielle Mai's group discusses the role of synthetic biology in a class of protein-based materials.

September 2021

Prashanth in the Smolke lab pioneers brewing of tropane alkaloids from scratch.

September 2020