Politics & society, Research

Biotech building blocks

Using seed money from the National Science Foundation, bioengineers from UC Berkeley and Stanford launched the world’s first open-source biological design-build facility to help speed the development of innovative solutions across health, energy and industry. The synthetic anti-malarial drug artemisinin, which relied on engineered microbes, took 10 years and $25 million to get out of the lab and into small-scale production. The BioFab International Open Facility Advancing Biotechnology will produce tens of thousands of standardized biological parts cost-free for academic and commercial users to dramatically reduce the development time and costs involved in engineering the synthetic organisms used to produce new biofuels, chemicals and drugs, like artemisinin.