On the 27th and 28th of September, the German Association for Synthetic for Synthetic Biology - GASB e.V. invited to their second annual symposium: GASB II Conference - Synthetic Biology Made in Germany. More than 100 participants gathered in the historic Harnack-House in Berlin to discuss and exchange the latest research results within the young field of Synthetic Biology.
This year's topics included Plant Synthetic Biology, Computational Synthetic Biology, new approaches to modify microbial metabolism and networks, Synthetic Biology in mammals and eukaryotes, new findings for the assembly of minimal cells as well as current developments in the field of protein engineering. For every topic, three talks were given by top-class researchers as well as by junior scientists from all over Germany and beyond.
Besides scientific talks, the GASB II conference also offered breakout sessions. In visionary talks, invited guests presented their future scenarios of Synthetic Biology: Barbara Di Ventura (BIOSS, University of Freiburg) talked about how Synthetic Biology will change products and therapies - from synthetic milk to the cure of genetic diseases. Jakob Schweizer (MaxSynBio, MPI Magdeburg) raised the question, how synthetic cells may change our definition of life. Sascha Pohflepp (UC San Diego, Designer) mentioned the area of conflict between biology and design. Concluding, Arren Bar-Even (MPI for Molecular Plant Physiology) introduced his vision of a value added chain, solely based on electricity and CO2.
The recent decision of the European Court of Justice on genome editing moved many scientists. In a panel discussion, representatives of politics, ethics, science and art debated how much regulation Synthetic Biology requires and to what degree that regulation might be harmful.
The conference format has been accepted very well by the attendants, who had plenty of opportunities to exchange ideas and to grow their network. The intention of GASB to provide a platform to connect Synthetic Biologists working within Germany and neighboring countries, and to contribute to the SynBio community building is on a good way.
During the conference, GASB also granted the first PhD award for exemplary and outstanding achievements in the field of Synthetic Biology. Thomas Schwander from the lab of Tobias Erb at the MPI in Marburg was awarded the prize endowed with 1000€.
The GASB II Conference closed with final remarks and the announcement of upcoming GASB events: the SynBio World Cafe, which will take place on the 13th of May 2019 in Darmstadt and the next GASB Conference titled “German Conference on Synthetic Biology (GCSB)” in collaboration with DECHEMA on the 12th and 13th of September 2019 in Aachen.
Group Picture: At the end of the conference, attendants joined for a group picture in front Harnack Haus. Source: Hendrik Cooper, GASB e.V.
PhD Award: Awarding the GASB PhD Prize to Dr. Thomas Schwander (middle) by GASB chairwoman Prof. Dr. Anke Becker (left) and Nicolas Krink, head of the GASB Steering Committee (right). Source: Hendrik Cooper, GASB e.V.