Dr Jim Haseloff is the 2011 Murray Lecturer
8 August 2011
This semester the School of Biological Sciences is privileged to welcome Dr Jim Haseloff and Professor Andrea Brand, from the University of Cambridge, who are visiting the University of Sydney to give public talks and engage in mentoring activities with students.
Professor Brand, a world-renowned molecular biologist who focuses on understanding the development of the nervous system, is the Herchel Smith Professor of Molecular Biology at the Gurdon Institute, University of Cambridge.
While in Sydney, Professor Brand will present her research, investigating the genetic networks that regulate stem cells in the Drosophila central nervous system, at a lunch-time seminar on 12 August titled, Stem cells to synapses: regulation of self-renewal and differentiation in the nervous system.
Dr Haseloff, also an internationally acclaimed molecular biologist, is visiting Sydney as the School's 2011 Murray Lecturer.
Dr Haseloff, who is from the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of Cambridge, is the fourth person to hold the Murray Lecture position, which aims to bring an internationally noted academic to the School to present a public talk and participate in mentoring activities for postgraduate students.
On Wednesday 10 August, Dr Haseloff will present a public talk on the exciting new field of Synthetic Biology, describing how it is allowing scientists to reprogramme life from manufactured genomes.
Through his seminar, Synthetic Biology: the next gen of GM, Dr Haseloff will show us that the ability to engineer new life forms is tantalisingly close to being a reality.
"Synthetic Biology goes beyond traditional genetic modification of inserting a single gene into an organism, to using formal engineering principles for construction of genetically programmed biological systems," explained Dr Haseloff.
"It's a new way of building organisms, as it entails the adoption of engineering principles of standardisation, abstraction and decoupling in biological construction," said Dr Haseloff.
"The new approach to reprogramming biological systems offers exciting potential for improving sustainable technologies, new feedstocks and therapies."
Dr Haseloff will reveal how research on plant genetics is paving the way for the ability to engineer plants with specialised features for producing food, fuels, biomass, polymers and drugs.
Outlining the scope of the new field, Dr Haseloff will lead us through the international research on Synthetic Biology in microbial and plant systems.
"The field of Synthetic Biology is still very young, still being defined and still coming together, but it's a paradigm shift in the way we regard and work with biological systems," said Dr Haseloff.
"While recombinant DNA technology has advanced at a rapid pace over the last 35 years, the cloning and assembly of synthetic DNA sequences remains a largely bespoke affair. The field is in a situation similar to mechanical engineering in the early 1800s and microelectronics in the early 1950s, when rapid progress required the adoption of standardised interchangeable parts and modular construction methods."
"Engineers were then free to reap the benefits of abstraction and decoupling to accelerate the design process, and aid the development of new parts and subsystems. These issues are even more pressing for the design of living systems," explained Dr Hasseloff.
"There are huge pressures to move away from our current reliance on non-renewable resources for energy and materials, and to improve food sources and environmental quality. Synthetic Biology can help us design organisms that can provide solutions to these problems."
Taking us on a journey into hyper-coloured plants cells through his award-winning images, Dr Haseloff will explore the exciting future of the science that is changing life as we know it.
"We have lots of beautiful images, as we develop and use advanced imaging and computer software tools for visualising the behaviour of intact microbial and plant systems."
After the talk, the University of Sydney's Eastern Ave Auditorium will come alive with plants, microscopy and demonstrations of cutting-edge plant science. Enjoy a free cocktail reception as you discover more about plants and the emerging field of synthetic biology.
Sydney Science Forum: Synthetic Biology - The next gen of GM
Date: Wednesday 10 August 2011
Time: 5:45pm - 6:45pm
Location: Eastern Avenue Auditorium, University of Sydney
Contact: Carla Avolio
Phone: 02 9351 4543