Skip to main content


Synthetic biology is an innovative and growing field that unites engineering and biology. It builds on the powerful research that came about as a result of a recombinant DNA technology and genome sequencing. By definition, synthetic biology is an interdisciplinary enterprise comprising biologists of many specialties, engineers, physicists, computer scientists and others. It promises a fundamentally deeper understanding of how living systems work and the capacity to recreate them for medicine, public health and the environment, including renewable energy.

NAKFI Synthetic Biology: Building a Nation's Inspiration discusses new foundational technologies and tools required to make biology easier to engineer, considers ethical issues unique to synthetic biology, explores how synthetic biology can lead to an understanding of the principles underlying natural genetic circuits and debates how synthetic biology can be used to answer fundamental biological questions.

Suggested Citation

National Research Council. 2010. Synthetic Biology: Building on Nature's Inspiration: Interdisciplinary Research Team Summaries. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

Import this citation to:

Publication Info

120 pages |  6 x 9 |  Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-309-14942-6
Chapters skim
Front Matter i-xiv
Conference Summary 1-6
IDR Team Summary 1: What new foundational technologies and tools are required to make biology easier to engineer? 7-18
IDR Team Summary 2: What are the significant differences, if any, between risk assessment capacity and religious analyses of the moral permissibility for synthetic biology applications and other biotechnology applications? 19-24
IDR Team Summary 3: Reconstructing gene circuitry: How can synthetic biology lead us to an understanding of the principles underlying natural genetic circuits and to the discovery of new biology? 25-36
IDR Team Summary 4: Designing communities of cells: how do we create communication and collaboration between cells to allow for specialization and division of labor? 37-44
IDR Team Summary 5: Why are human-designed biological circuits and devices fragile and inaccurate relative to their natural counterparts? 45-52
IDR Team Summary 6: How can genomics be leveraged to develop coherent approaches for rapidly exploring the biochemical diversity in and engineering of non-model organisms? 53-60
IDR Team Summary 7: How do we move beyond genetics to engage chemical and physical approaches to synthetic biology? 61-70
IDR Team Summary 8: What is the role of evolution and evolvability in synthetic biology? 71-76
IDR Team Summary 9: How do we maximally capitalize on the promise of synthetic biology? 77-82
Appendixes 83-84
List of Synthetic Biology Podcast Tutorials 85-88
Agenda 89-94
Participants 95-106

What is skim?

The Chapter Skim search tool presents what we've algorithmically identified as the most significant single chunk of text within every page in the chapter. You may select key terms to highlight them within pages of each chapter.

Copyright Information

The National Academies Press (NAP) has partnered with Copyright Clearance Center's Rightslink service to offer you a variety of options for reusing NAP content. Through Rightslink, you may request permission to reprint NAP content in another publication, course pack, secure website, or other media. Rightslink allows you to instantly obtain permission, pay related fees, and print a license directly from the NAP website. The complete terms and conditions of your reuse license can be found in the license agreement that will be made available to you during the online order process. To request permission through Rightslink you are required to create an account by filling out a simple online form. The following list describes license reuses offered by the National Academies Press (NAP) through Rightslink:

  • Republish text, tables, figures, or images in print
  • Post on a secure Intranet/Extranet website
  • Use in a PowerPoint Presentation
  • Distribute via CD-ROM
  • Photocopy

Click here to obtain permission for the above reuses. If you have questions or comments concerning the Rightslink service, please contact:

Rightslink Customer Care
Tel (toll free): 877/622-5543
Tel: 978/777-9929

To request permission to distribute a PDF, please contact our Customer Service Department at 800-624-6242 for pricing.

To request permission to translate a book published by the National Academies Press or its imprint, the Joseph Henry Press, pleaseclick here to view more information.

loading iconLoading stats for Synthetic Biology: Building on Nature's Inspiration: Interdisciplinary Research Team Summaries...