The IMechE Devon and Cornwall Area Committee would like to invite you to an evening technical lecture on Synthetic Biology and Bio-Nanomechanics. This presentation will be led by Raymond Sparrow who is a specialist in the subject matter. There may also be some examples of works using synthetic biology.
Over the past 15 years, research in biology, physics and engineering have created opportunities at the interface of these disciplines. It has become evident that the principles of mechanical engineering can be applied to biology in the new field of 'synthetic biology'.
Research in this area investigates how to build artificial, biological-based machines using engineering principles and procedures. This is by taking molecular and sub-cellular components and principles of naturally occurring biological systems then characterising and simplifying them. These components can then be used to engineer what would essentially be artificial (synthetic) biological materials, devices, machines and systems. Such development can be used for application in medicine, energy, the environment and industry. There are two main areas of synthetic biology. One is the ‘top down’ approach. Here the cells genetic and protein synthesis systems are used – essentially a variation of genetic engineering. The second is the ‘bottom up’ approach. Here individual molecules or collections of molecules are used. These components can be taken from different species and combined together to produce a new device or machine.
It is a considerable challenge to work at the molecular scale. The technologies of nano-imaging and manipulation technologies of biological samples have progressed significantly and now can image, characterise and manipulate biological molecules from the macro down to the nano-scale. Their behaviour can be predicted, quantified and used in ways not possible previously. These advanced techniques have made synthetic biology possible.
Internationally, synthetic biology is still in its early stages of development. The challenge is to integrate biological molecular components with each other and with non-biological components to yield new technologies. The initial focus will be on bio-photonic bio-nanodevices and molecular bio-materials. However considerable progress has been made in some areas – particularly in the more conventional ‘top down’ genetic engineering approach. This has mainly been due to the fact that this approach arose from an already existing established research theme.
About the speaker
Our guest speaker Raymond Sparrow has over 30 years’ experience since graduating from Lancashire Polytechnic (UCLAN) with a PhD in Biophysics. Raymond will talk us through his area of specialism, including how it is being used in today’s world and how it can help going forward.
This event is open to all and you do not have to be a member of IMechE to attend. However, booking is essential via the above link as places are limited.