Over recent months, we have been conducting an experiment. We have teamed up with five international academies to convene a series of symposia to discuss the emerging field of synthetic biology. This hexilateral collaboration is a first for us, and so we have had to feel our way through the process, learning as we go. But for a field of research with global and disciplinary reach, there was much to be gained by looking beyond our own walls.

The first symposium – subtitled ‘the economic and social life of synthetic biology – begins tomorrow at the Royal Society, finishing on Thursday at the Royal Academy of Engineering. You can read the programme below.

Working with the Chinese and US national academies of science and engineering, we have brought together a range of speakers from academia, industry and government to explore the potential for synthetic biology. There has been much hype around this subject, especially in the wake of Craig Venter’s announcement last year that he had produced the first synthetic, self-replicating life form. This meeting provides a platform for an honest discussion of the tools and technology that synthetic biology might lead to, as well as the challenges provoked by these innovations.

Please follow the meeting via #synbio3nations. Videos of the presentations will be available online after the event.

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