A) the design and construction of new biological parts, devices, and systems, and
B) the re-design of existing, natural biological systems for useful purposes.
are currently working to
* help specify and populate a set of standard parts that have well-defined performance characteristics and can be used (and re-used) to build biological systems,
* develop and incorporate design methods and tools into an integrated engineering environment,
* reverse engineer and re-design pre-existing biological parts and devices in order to expand the set of functions that we can access and program
* reverse engineer and re-design a 'simple' natural bacterium.
The openwetware project wiki is an effort to promote the sharing of information, know-how, and wisdom among researchers and groups who are working in biology & biological engineering.
Article discussing the prospects and impact of a lot more automation in molecular biology (automated DNA synthesis, transformation, selection, PCR, ligations, and imaging)
Wired article on synthetic biology and biobricks
Biobricks would use a registry of parts like the one at MIT Physical parts in the DNA Repository have been designed to be assembled into systems using normal cloning techniques based on restriction enzymes, purification, ligation, and transformation - with a twist. BioBrick parts are composable. The result of assembling two parts is itself a part that may be used in future assemblies. As of June 1, 2006, the physical Repository currently contains 178 basic parts and 462 composite parts. 43 parts are currently being synthesized or assembled. 1383 parts are specified and may or may not ever become available. The database contains a total of 2351 part entries.
Standard assembly process Two BioBrick parts, one blue and one green can be assembled into a blue-green system by a process called BioBrick Standard Assembly.
Parallel and Rolling Assembly is faster than standard assembly where many parts are put together BioBrick systems may contain many parts. For example, one could spend 6 months to a year building a 50-part system by assembling the first two parts, adding the third part, adding the fourth part, ... . However, because BioBrick assembly is composable, the same assembly can be done much more quickly (in 3 to 6 weeks, using 6 stages of assembly) by performing many pairwise assemblies at the same time.
May 2006 article about synthetic biology in Scientific American