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Foundations for engineering biology

Nature volume 438, pages 449453 (24 November 2005) | Download Citation

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Abstract

Engineered biological systems have been used to manipulate information, construct materials, process chemicals, produce energy, provide food, and help maintain or enhance human health and our environment. Unfortunately, our ability to quickly and reliably engineer biological systems that behave as expected remains quite limited. Foundational technologies that make routine the engineering of biology are needed. Vibrant, open research communities and strategic leadership are necessary to ensure that the development and application of biological technologies remains overwhelmingly constructive.

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Acknowledgements

I thank T. Knight, G. Sussman and R. Rettberg for teaching me about the theory and practice of engineering, especially as it relates to biology. I also thank A. Arkin, F. Arnold, R. Baric, F. Blattner, J. Braff, R. Brent, S. Bruck, C. Bustamante, B. Canton, R. Carlson, L. Chan, A. Che, G. Church, J. Collins, C. Conboy, L. Conway, R. Davis, M. Desai, J. Doyle, E. Eisenstadt, M. Elowitz, S. Forrest, T. Gardner, S. Goldstein, J. Gritton, H. Hellinga, G. Homsy, E. Horvitz, J. Jacobson, J. Kelly, T. Kalil, J. Keasling, D. Kirkpatrick, S. Kosuri, P. Lincoln, J. Mulligan, R. Murray, R. Nagpal, R. Newton, C. Pabo, I. Phillips, P. Rabinow, R. Shetty, P. Silver, B. Smith, C. Smolke, S. Sutton, C. Tomlin, J. Way, C. Webb, R. Weiss, S. Wolfe and A. Vesilind for their contributions to the ideas discussed here. Finally, I am grateful to R. Brent and N. Kuldell for comments on an earlier manuscript.

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Affiliations

  1. Division of Biological Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Room 68-580, Koch Biology Building, 31 Ames Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA

    • Drew Endy

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Competing interests

The author is an Assistant Professor of Biological Engineering at MIT, co-founder of Codon Devices, Inc., and co-founder and President of the BioBricks Foundation, a not-for-profit organization.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Drew Endy.

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https://doi.org/10.1038/nature04342

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