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Professor Dek Woolfson
Professor Dek Woolfson

Press Release - 02 September 2008

Science Café: synthetic biology - hype and hope

Synthetic biology and the controversial role it could play in understanding the building blocks of life and producing life-saving drugs will be the subject of the next Bath Science Café on Monday 8 September.

Professor Dek Woolfson from the School of Chemistry and Department of Biochemistry at the University of Bristol will be talking about a variety of issues in synthetic biology, describing this broad and growing field, introducing some of the key scientists involved and giving examples of the current world-wide research programmes in the area, including some of the work being carried out at Bristol.

Synthetic biology is a new scientific field that could lead to new ways of producing novel materials and life-saving drugs, but also raises concerns over scientists tinkering with nature.

“Synthetic biology is an exciting new discipline that has a huge potential for developing our understanding of biology and also allowing us to engineer new materials and systems inspired by nature” explains Dek.

“Despite this promise, the area has also been hyped to an extent by certain organisations and the media. As a result, there is an understandable and growing public concern over scientists potentially tinkering with nature and creating life.

“This talk therefore will not only be about describing the technology available, but also about discussing some of the ethical, legal and social issues raised by this type of research.

“I will be inviting members of the audience to comment on and discuss topics as they arise; so most of the evening will be for discussion and debate.”

The Science Café is an ongoing series of monthly events where some of the country’s leading scientists will talk informally about their research over a drink.

The event will be held on Monday 8 September in The Raven pub in Queen Street in the centre of town. No tickets or reservations are required - just turn up at 7.30pm for an 8.00pm start.

Organisers will ask for a small voluntary donation to cover travel costs for the speakers.

To register for e-mail alerts about forthcoming Science Café events, please contact Rod Scott (details above).

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