Synthetic Biology: Its Promise and the Challenge

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Monday, April 14, 2008) - Synthetic biology is a new area of biotechnology research that holds a great deal of promise and controversy. Using in-depth understanding of genomes, scientists are now designing and building DNA from scratch. The results are useful organisms that can efficiently produce advanced biofuels and medicines. Researchers in the field have proposed policies that can ensure continued research and development while preventing possible misuses of the technology.

Research labs such as the J. Craig Venter Institute and the Joint BioEnergy Institute are focused on creating new organisms that can efficiently convert plant matter into renewable fuels, from higher alcohols to hydocarbons and even hydrogen. Biotechnology companies such as Gevo, Inc., LS9, Inc., and Amyris are using synthetic biology discoveries and tools to develop new fuels, chemicals, and oils that can replace petroleum. Amyris has also successfully developed a synthetic bacterium that can produce a low-cost anti-malarial drug for use in developing countries.

“Synthetic genomics is one of the powerful technologies now being used to create a new industrial revolution,” stated Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section.

The World Congress will feature a lunch plenary session on Wednesday, April 30, 2008 on “Synthetic Genomics -- Solutions and Challenges”:

·                Robert M. Friedman, Vice President for Public Policy, J. Craig Venter Institute.

·                James Newcomb, Managing Director, Research, Bio Economic Research Associates.

·                Jack D. Newman, Co-Founder & Senior Vice President, Research and Co-founder, Amyris.

Other sessions presenting research on advanced technology for biofuels include:

“The US Department of Energy Bioenergy Research Centers: Accelerating Transformational Breakthroughs for Biofuels Production”

·                Patrick Glynn, US Department of Energy

·                Jay Keasling, Joint BioEnergy Institute.

·                Tim Donohue, University of Wisconsin.

·                Martin Keller, Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

For a complete and up-to-date listing of program events, visit The event will also feature an exhibit hall, business partnering and networking opportunities, and a poster reception.

More than 25 top company executives will join 200 leaders from industry, academia and government scheduled to speak at plenary and breakout sessions during the World Congress.

Advance media registration is available online through April 22, 2008, and is complimentary for credentialed members of the news media. To register, please visit:

The World Congress is the only global conference dedicated solely to the most recent advancements in industrial biotechnology. The 2008 World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioprocessing is co-organized by the American Chemical Society, the National Agricultural Biotechnology Council and the U.S. Department of Energy.

For more information on the 2008 World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioprocessing, please visit the conference webpage at

The “Advanced Biofuels & Climate Change Information Center” presents the latest commentary and data on the environmental and other impacts of biofuel production. Drop in and add your comments, at

Upcoming BIO Events

 ·   BIO National Venture Conference 
    April 22-23, 2008
    Boston, Mass.

 ·   World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology & Bioprocessing  
    April 27-30, 2008
    Chicago, Ill.

 ·   2008 BIO International Convention 
    June 17-20, 2008
    San Diego, Calif.


About BIO
BIO represents more than 1,200 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United States and in more than 30 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of innovative healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products. BIO also produces the annual BIO International Convention, the world’s largest gathering of the biotechnology industry, along with industry-leading investor and partnering meetings held around the world.