pro1The aim of the Flowers consortium is to work together on projects to develop Synthetic Biology in the UK.

Our first project, funded by the Engineering and Physical Research Council, is to develop integrated platform technology and an infrastructure for synthetic biology. The project will create platform technology, comprising tools, processes etc., which can be applied across a range of fields.

The platform technology will be used as part of a systematic design process involving the design cycle for synthetic biology (specifications, design, modelling, implementation, testing and validation) to produce biologically based parts, devices and systems – with a range of applications in different fields. An important aspect of the approach is the incorporation of ethical, societal and environmental considerations into the design process.

The Flowers Consortium has dry lab based projects that are building an ICT infrastructure for synthetic biology which will facilitate the communal development of the parallel projects working on data mining, CAD tools, models and modelling. Standards and references are being developed within both computational projects and for the biological parts and chassis. Wet lab projects currently focus on characterisation of both chassis and parts as well as developing new methods of DNA assembly better suited to synthetic biological approaches. It is also working on developing a number of applications, and is developing and implementing a framework of Responsible Research and Innovation.

Areas of research

A number of detailed exemplar applications projects will be carried out in close collaboration with industry to test the effectiveness of the infrastructure and platform technology as a vehicle for translating university-based research into industrial applications.

The specific topics being worked on in the project are:-

  • Information infrastructure
  • Standards and CAD
  • Data mining
  • Models and Modelling
  • Chassis characterisation
  • Parts and device characterisation
  • DNA Assembly
  • Applications
  • Innovation and impact.

How we work

Members of the Flowers consortium work together on the research areas, and have regular project meetings. We recently had a 2 day all-hands meeting to review all the scientific advances we had made.

What we have achieved

Now half was through, the Flowers project has had two notable achievements.

  • The community now has the ability to undertake multi-institutional research collaboration across the Flowers Consortium, enabling the cohesive development of platform technologies and the integration of tools and methodologies which will impact the ability to undertake systematic design.
  • The definition and implementation of key emergent metrology concepts and standards (DICOM-SB and SBOL) and their integration into an enabling IT infrastructure (SynBIS) – built to enable efficient information exchange and extraction. This facilitates knowledge aggregation and consolidation.