Challenging Misconceptions

What is synthetic biology? And what are the implications for the future? WISB is dedicated to inspiring others with what synthetic biology is capable of, and what developments we can expect to see within our lifetimes. We work with a wide range of audiences from a wide range of backgrounds.

If you would like to find out more about our outreach and work experience activities, please contact us.  Some of our outreach tools are described below.

The Benefit of Synthetic Biology Research to Society

Synthetic biology is identified as one of the ‘Eight Great Technologies’ for the UK (Government Industrial Strategy 2012)  that support UK science strengths and business capabilities.

In collaboration with industrial partners, WISB researchers aim to maximise opportunities for industrial translation of research in the following key areas:

  • Healthcare: Pharmaceuticals
  • Healthcare: Treatments for disease
  • Industry: Commodity chemicals
  • Environmental: Biodegradation and Bioremediation
  • Food Security: Crop Production

Synthetic biology also generates important insight into fundamental principles underpinning the operation of living systems. For example, by modifying the noise characteristics of gene expression systems, we are learning about the role of stochasticity in the evolution of life. This very same knowledge also informs the design of synthetic systems utilized in our applied Research Themes.

Image Source: UK Government’s Eight great technologies: Infographics (accessed from:

Video Clip: What is Synthetic Biology?

 WISB Co-Directors, Orkun Soyer and Declan Bates, talk about synthetic biology and its potential to be a significant driver for UK business. This short film was commissioned by the venture capital fund Rainbow Seed Fund.

Outreach Tools: Virtual Reality

Users are fully immersed in a world where synthetic biology can make a difference to their day-to-day lives. A scientist guides the user, who role-plays as CRISPR Cas 9, through the steps involved in adding a green fluorescing protein to tree DNA. The end result is a street that is lined with glowing trees.

Outreach Tools: Secret Circuitry of E. coli

Four giant bespoke E. coli cells (1×0.5 m) demonstrate how cells can be programmed. Upon opening the cell, students and the general public are greeted with a range of loose electrical components and sketches showing various Boolean logic gates (AND, OR, NAND or NOR gates). This hands-on activity allows the audience to visualise how cells can be programmed and what cells can be programmed to do. Real life examples of synthetic biology logic gates, such as the AND gate comprised of arabinose and salicylate which yields GFP expression as an output help to further highlight applications.

Aurator Public Engagement Tool


WISB Seminar Series

WISB holds seminars throughout the year.  Our seminar series includes guest presentations from leading international academics from synthetic biology and related disciplines and commercial organisations.

Seminars are held at the Gibbet Hill Campus, University of Warwick.

WISB has been funded by the above bodies