C3 Seminar: Dr James Brown
Topic: How should we build a sustainable Australian Bioeconomy? Lessons learned from 15 years on the frontline of Synthetic Biology.
Current estimates suggest that by 2050, Earth’s human population will have reached nine billion & we will require the resources of three Earths to sustain our species. We are at a perilous tipping-point for global sustainability - but fortuitously on the cusp of realising the value of a technology that can address this global crisis, whilst simultaneously underpinning the development of an advanced global bioeconomy.
Since its much-heralded inception in the early 2000s, Synthetic Biology has gained significant attention & sizeable funding from public & private sectors around the world. From its embryonic emergence as a boldly-stated intention to engineer biology, through to an increasingly mature engineering discipline, the field continues to promise solutions to the global challenges we face today. Proponents promise clean energy, sustainable biomanufacturing, food security & effective disease intervention that will transform our society, alter the way we interact with our environment, & allow us to sustainably provide goods & services across all economic sectors.
Australia is well-placed to become a leader in this burgeoning field & is approaching a critical phase in its own development domestically; what lessons can we learn from the last 15 years of national strategic maneuvers & international efforts in the sector? How should we structure our community, curricula & infrastructure to build a globally-competitive bio-based economy? This talk will take a look back at the emergence of Synthetic Biology, highlight key policy decisions, notable education programmes, & critical strategic plans that have seen the world’s largest economies invest in Synthetic Biology - and point to where Australia might best focus its efforts & resources.
About the speaker
Dr James Brown
James is an experienced genetic engineer, who has helped catalyse the emergence of Synthetic Biology on the national & international stage. He has held senior roles bridging both the technical, political & business aspects of this burgeoning discipline.
Prior to founding Bondi Bioworks, James was the architect of a new wet lab facility, DNA repository & design workflow at world-leading technical-consultancy Cambridge Consultants. There he took the technical lead on a range of projects including HT characterisation platforms, novel strain-engineering, cell-free sensing & DNA data-storage.
James served as National Programme Director for UK Synthetic Biology & was Secretariat to the UK’s Synthetic Biology Leadership Council, where he supported the implementation of the UK’s Strategic Roadmap. James worked in Microsoft Research’s Biological Computation Group & spent time in Saudi Arabia, working with global chemical producer SABIC. He was an iGEM Ambassador during the formative years of the competition, and was Principal Advisor to the University of Cambridge iGEM teams from 2007 through 2010, including the award-winning E. chromi team in 2009. He organised the formative BioSysBio conference series and led the 2012 Cambridge BioDesign Forum.
During his PhD, James developed tools for the design and characterisation of a new generation of genetic circuits, driving Turing pattern formation in engineered microbial populations. He holds an MEng, MA and PhD from the University of Cambridge.