What is Synthetic Biology?

Daniel Bednarik

DNA Sequence

Daniel Bednarik is the Vice President of Molecular Engineering Unit Operations at Intrexon, which is a large-scale synthetic biology company located in Germantown, Maryland.  Synthetic biology is a relatively new field in the broad area of science, although it is making a great deal of headway in terms of quality of life on earth. Synthetic biology has the potential to improve crucial areas of human life, such as health care, the food we eat, our environment, and sustainable energy.

Synthetic biology can be defined as the conception and creation of biological devices and systems that can be put to use for the improvement of goods, services and life.  The science of synthetic biology itself is derived from the combining of the science of biology as well as engineering.  It quite often falls into the same vein as work associated with bioengineering and biomedical engineering. Essentially, it is a complex combination of engineering, biology and biotechnology.

Those who study and research within the field of synthetic biology general fall into two categories of focus.  These two categories are the focus on the origin of life, or focusing on how to utilize synthetic biology in order to further the quality of life.  Synthetic Biology with an interest in the origin of life typically takes a more biology-based approach, dealing with experiments in synthetic DNA and living cells, as well as complex gene synthesis and synthetic chemistry.  Synthetic biology focusing on quality of life takes a more engineering-based approach, focusing on utilizing novel technologies in order to advance naturally occurring systems by combining the two to yield a new and improved result.

Within the niche of synthetic biology, there are a number of technologies that are essential to the furthering and development of synthetic biology.  One imperative component to synthetic biology is DNA sequencing, which is the determining of the order of nucleotide bases in a single molecule of DNA.  DNA sequencing can yield invaluable understanding of natural organisms, thus can help synthetic biologists to construct novel biology-based products, and much more.

Daniel Bednarik

Model DNA sequence

Another crucial area of science in synthetic biology is molecular cloning.  Molecular cloning allows biologists to generate a multitude of one singular strand of DNA, which they can then use for research.

Synthesis is key to the success of synthetic biology research. Currently, one large issue within synthetic biology that has proved to be somewhat of a road block is the extreme amount of time and effort that is needed for the creation of engineered genetic sequences.  Gene synthesis, which is the creation of artificial genes, needs to be more rapid and easy in order to facilitate synthetic biological research.

Synthetic biology is truly a groundbreaking area of science that has a tremendous potential to improve our world beyond comprehension.  Health care, the environment, renewable energy, and food can all be improved through synthetic biological research, along with so much more.  Daniel Bednarik is passionate about his work in synthetic biology and looks forward to his fascinating career every day.