Bravo Ellen! “There is something sacred about a space where you can work on a project and not have to justify to anyone that it’s going to make a lot of money, or save the world.”
Follow my source at the bottom right to the National Academies website. Here you will find a link to ‘view the live webcast’ of the 2nd day of a 6-party symposia on Synthetic Biology that is currently taking place in Washington DC.
This series involves the NAS, CSTL, BLS, NAE, RS, RAE, CAS, and CAE. It builds upon a symposium from 2009 that I had the privilidge of attending that involved the NAS, NAE, and the OECD.
I’m pleased to see the discussion has expanded its speaker roster for this series to include young creative minds like Daisy Ginsberg, Meagan Lizarazo and Jason Kelly. However, I am sad to see that key stakeholders are still not represented. Where are Genspace and BioCurious? Maybe the 2013/2014 symposia will aspire to be this inclusive?! It is imperative that citizen scientists are invited to engage at this level regarding a topic like ‘Synthetic Biology for the Next Generation’, especially since the discussion will mention, if not focus, their speculative concerns and fears on the DIY biologists that will surely be included in the ‘next generation’ of synbio.
A team of nanoscientists from Northwestern University have demonstrated that they can direct the developmental fate of stem cells through a process called ‘polymer pen lithography.’ They placed stem cells on a nanopatterned surface (a 3-D designed surface that is roughly a hundred-thousand times smaller then the tip of your pencil) that mimicked the natural molecular structures of the matrix surrounding their stem cells. In this case, researchers used their patterning technique to direct stem cells to differentiate into osteocytes (bone cells).
Chad Mirkin, the director of Northwestern’s International Institute for Nanotechnology says,
"The potential of this tool is to be able to take pluripotent stem cells from a patient, run them over a selected three-dimensional matrix in order to convert them rapidly into a particular cell type of choice, and then return them to the patient for repair and replenishment of damaged tissues."
If this method continues to progress successfully it would indeed be a remarkable breakthrough and significant tool for therapeutic stem cell technologies.