Synthetic Biology

Public sector funding of synthetic biology projects is rising each year, and the numbers from the “U.S. Trends in Synthetic Biology Research Funding” report show an explosion of resources coming from DARPA since 2010.

No doubt this is a strategic area of knowledge, and it is not basic science anymore – it is business. Some interesting numbers:

Two-thirds of all the U.S. money invested comes from Department of Defense, bringing some worries about biological weapons.

Less them 1 percent of all the money is been invested in risk research and studies about ethical and moral issues.

So, there is a lot of money going to develop this technology but almost nothing going to address the question “How should we use it?”


A new analysis by the Synthetic Biology Project at the Wilson Center finds the Defense Department and its Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) funds much of the U.S. government’s research in this field, with less than 1 percent of total federal funding going to risk research.

The report, U.S. Trends in Synthetic Biology Research, finds that between 2008 and 2014, the United States invested approximately $820 million dollars in synthetic biology research. In that time period, the Defense Department became a key funder of synthetic biology research. DARPA’s investments, for example, increased from near zero in 2010 to more than $100 million in 2014 – more than three times the amount spent by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

“The increase in DARPA research spending comes as NSF is winding down its initial investment in the Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center, or SynBERC,” says Dr. Todd Kuiken, senior program associate with the project. “After the SynBERC funding ends next year, it is unclear if there will be a dedicated research program outside of the Pentagon. There is also little investment addressing potential risks and ethical issues, which can affect public acceptance and market growth as the field advances.”
synthetic biologySources:

U.S. Trends in Synthetic Biology Research Funding report

The big trends in synthetic biology you need to know

Navigating the future of synthetic biology

Military becomes the major funder of synthetic biology


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