SEED 2015 Session Descriptions

Session Title Description
Systems Modelling Multiple disciplines converge when attempting to understand how complex biological systems, including biochemical networks, function.  This session aims to better understand how to generate and interpret blueprints of cellular processes with computational and mathematical models, such that they can be predictably engineered at the genetic level.  New techniques and applications will be discussed.
Biomedical Applications Synthetic biology is enabling technology for new vaccines and therapeutics.  DNA constructs can be readily synthesized on demand starting from DNA sequence.  This session will highlight progress in engineering DNA constructs such that they may be used directly as DNA vaccines, or expressed to generate RNA vaccines, protein therapeutics, and attenuated viruses (e.g., for generation of a flu vaccine).
Biological Circuits and Context
Synthetic biology approaches are used to gain designable control over biological systems.  Strategies and applications for introducing modular control over living cells will be discussed in this session.
One of the most challenging areas in genetic engineering is the construction of reliable and robust synthetic regulation.  To this end, we will include speakers that are working on genetic circuit design to study cell development and differentiation, cell-cell communication, and gene regulation.
Metabolism, Metabolomics and Engineering Metabolism Synthetic biology enables the manipulation of genetic pathways in order to create chemical products and to optimize their production from biomass.  This session focuses on the application of new techniques that accelerate the design-build-test cycle to improve the production of existing products and to expand the classes of chemicals that can be produced.  
Agriculture and Water This session will focus on the engineering of biological systems (including whole plants) to provide food and clean water in sustainable fashion for our growing population, which is estimated to be at 10 billion people by 2050.  The impact on the environment will also be discussed.
Advancing Synthetic Biology Tools and Automation Synthetic biologists and engineers from multiple disciplines are working together to automate key synthetic biology and cellular engineering technologies.  This has great promise in accelerating scientific discovery and reducing costs and turnaround time.   New technologies, integration into microfluidic platforms, and future capabilities (including how to get there) will be highlighted in this session.
DNA and RNA Based Synthetic Biology Advances in nucleic acid nanotechnology have enabled the generation of artificial DNA and RNA nanostructures that are more predictably designed than ever before.  These nanostructures have many applications including regulating gene expression, the production of construction materials, and drug delivery.  This session will focus on new technologies and applications for the generation of DNA or RNA structures on demand.
Minimal Systems Biological systems and processes are complex and often misunderstood due to synergistic and antagonistic effects.  This session is focused on the design and synthesis of molecular and cellular processes in a more simple form such that they can be better characterized and understood.  Bottom-up, top-down, and orthogonal approaches to characterize a variety of systems will be discussed.
Analytical Technologies for Synthetic Biology This session will focus on methods for chemically synthesizing long stretches of DNA and assembling them into genes, genetic pathways and whole genomes.  Key metrics such as cost, turnaround time, accuracy, reliability, and tractability for automation will be discussed.  
Microbial Communities and Microbiome Genomics Recent advances in sequencing the microbiome of plants and several mammalian species, including humans, have made it possible to imagine engineered bacteria as therapeutic vehicles to treat disease by navigating, sensing, and manipulating the microbiome.  This session will highlight the construction of organisms that can serve as sensors of the microenvironment or perform a therapeutic function.