The First International Coordination Meeting on the Synthetic Yeast Project to Propel Synthetic Biology Forward

The first international meeting on Synthetic Yeast Genome, Sc2.0 project participants:

Funders: NSF (USA); MoST (China); NSFC (China); BBSRC (UK); Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (India); Hong Kong Research Grants Council

Academia: Johns Hopkins University (USA); BGI, Tianjin University, Tsinghua University (China); Imperial College London, The University of Edinburgh (UK); Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, Pondicherry University (India); Hong Kong University, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Chinese University of Hong Kong (Hong Kong); Institut Pasteur (France); Catholic U Louvain la Neuve (Belgium)

April 17, 2012, China  – The international coordination meeting on the synthetic yeast project (Sc2.0 PROJECT), co-organized by Johns Hopkins University (JHU), BGI and Tsinghua University with the support of National Science Foundation (NSF), was held at the Wenjin Hotel, Beijing, China. This was the first international research coordination meeting on the synthetic yeast project aiming to develop new technological strategies and effective approaches to promote further research on this project as well as to boost the development of synthetic biology.

The meeting was attended by over 40 officials and experts from governments, outstanding scientific research institutes and colleges, including Ministry of Science and Technology, China, The National Science Foundation of China, The National Science Foundation (NSF), U.S.A., Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), United Kingdom, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, India, Tianjin University, China, Hong Kong University, China, among others. At this meeting, Johns Hopkins University and The Centre for Synthetic Biology and Innovation (CSynBI) at Imperial College London signed a collaborative research agreement for their role in the Sc2.0 PROJECT. Imperial College will initiate the complete synthesis of yeast chromosome 11, bringing genome-scale synthetic biology to the UK for the first time.

Synthetic biology is a new emerging discipline, which is motivated by advances in molecular cell sciences, systems biology and the advent of two foundational technologies, DNA sequencing and DNA synthesis. The purpose of synthetic biology is to design synthetic biological systems by utilizing systematically engineered micro-organisms for the production of biofuels and drugs, providing a unique opportunity for researchers to study many profound life science questions and generate vital industrial applications.

The Sc2.0 PROJECT, initiated by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, is the first synthetic eukaryotic cell genome project. As one of the principal investigators of the project, Dr. Jef Boeke, Director of the High Throughput Biology Center, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, delivered a detailed presentation on the overview of the project and its profound impact in the field of synthetic biology. He said, “This meeting provides an opportunity for further boosting the research and applications of the Sc2.0 PROJECT. With the achievements of this project, I believe that we can seek much better solutions to face the challenges of the future, such as world energy shortage.”

After that, experts in different organizations, combining experimental studies with the prospective for synthetic biology, gave excellent presentations and participated in active discussions. Professor Guanhua Xu, Chairman of Advisory Group on The Fifth Major Project of Chinese National Programs for Fundamental Research and Development (973 Program), stated, “The accomplishment of Sc2.0 project will serve as a landmark for important milestones in the development of synthetic biology.”

Professor Huanming Yang, Chairman of BGI, said, “The rapid development of high-throughput sequencing technologies have led to a revolution in OMIC-related areas, which also greatly facilitates the studies on synthetic biology. With solidarity and international cooperation, I believe we will be able to explore more opportunities for valuable research in human disease and biomedical areas.”

Build-A-Genome course goes global!

Our popular undergraduate course — Build A Genome (BAG) just opens its 2012 spring session. We welcome 15 students from Johns Hopkins University, 22 students from Loyola University Maryland, and 2 Chinese scholars who traveled across the world from Tianjin University. Dr. Wenzheng Zhang and Wei Liu, representing Dr. Yingjin Yuan of the Department of Chemical Engineering, will be taking the course at JHU and then will return to Tianjin University to set up and help teach “Build-A-Genome China” in the fall of 2012. It is hoped that Build-A-Genome China will become a casino online part of the regular curriculum for Chemical Engineering students, all of whom will there by be directly contributing to the International Sc2.0 project.  This will be the first international appearance of the Build-A-Genome course, facilitated by a web-enabled international database portal to the BioStudio / Build-A-Genome Database, developed by Dr. Giovanni Stracquadanio of JHU.

The new development of Build A Genome is an important component of a recent collaboration agreement on Synthetic Biology research and education between Johns Hopkins University and Tianjin University. Vice Provost for International Programs Pamela Cranston signed the agreement on behalf of Johns Hopkins University together with the President of Tianjin University, Dr. Jiajun Li in November, 2011.

Johns Hopkins’ Man-Made Yeast Go Global

Released: 12/5/2011 9:55 PM EST
Source: Johns Hopkins Medicine

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine who recently reported the design and creation of a man-made yeast chromosome have now signed on some international collaborators at BGI, a genomics company headquartered in Beijing, China. The newly formed relationship brings together the Johns Hopkins project with some of the world’s experts in so-called next generation genome sequencing in an effort to speed the understanding of how genomes are built and organized and how they function.

“Next generation sequencing plays a key role in synthetic genomics, enabling large-scale processing with lower costs and higher efficiency,” says Jef Boeke, Ph.D., professor of molecular biology and genetics and director of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Basic Biomedical Science’s High Throughput Biology Center. “With BGI’s expertise in genome sequencing and bioinformatics,

we are confident we can make very rapid progress in the SC2.0 PROJECT to facilitate further studies of how synthetic genomes evolve.”

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BGI Announces Collaboration with Johns Hopkins University on Synthetic Yeast Project to Accelerate the Development of Synthetic Biology

November 14th, 2011, Shenzhen, China – BGI the world’s largest genomic organization and Johns Hopkins University (JHU), today signed a collaborative research agreement for the synthetic yeast project (SC2.0 PROJECT), an ambitious synthetic biology project which seeks to re-design and synthesize the yeast genome. This project was initiated by JHU and serves as part of JHU’s synthetic biology program.

In addition to the research collaboration of SC2.0 PROJECT, BGI’s researchers will have the opportunity to access the synthetic biology expertise of JHU. They can attend for internship the undergraduate course, “Build-A-Genome,” associated with the project at JHU. During the course, they can perform synthesis of segments of the synthetic yeast genome by themselves.

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“Synthetic” chromosome permits rapid, on-demand “evolution” of yeast

In the quest to understand genomes—how they’re built, how they’re organized and what makes them work—a team of Johns Hopkins researchers has engineered from scratch a computer-designed yeast chromosome and incorporated into their creation a new system that lets scientists intentionally rearrange the yeast’s genetic material. A report of their work appears September 14 as an Advance Online Publication in the journal Nature.

“We have created a research tool that not only lets us learn more about yeast biology and genome biology, but also holds out the possibility of someday designing genomes for specific purposes, like making new vaccines or medications,” says Jef D. Boeke, Ph.D., Sc.D., professor of molecular biology and genetics, and director of the High Throughput Biology Center at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

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Johns Hopkins center for China studies announced

A Chinese-American entrepreneur whose company recently unveiled plans to build a hybrid auto plant in Alabama has made a $10 million gift to The Johns Hopkins University to promote innovative new approaches to the study of China.

The gift from Benjamin Yeung and his wife, Rhea, will establish the Benjamin and Rhea Yeung Center for Collaborative China Studies.

The center’s role is to deepen the understanding between the United States and China through a unique collaboration among the various Johns Hopkins schools and academic programs. In the near term, Johns Hopkins envisions new academic and research initiatives funded through Yeung Center grants for collaborative projects across the institution; the proposal process is expected to begin next month. The Hopkins-Nanjing Center for Chinese and American Studies, run jointly in China by Johns Hopkins and Nanjing University, will be a natural host for some of this activity.

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