Brainstorm-symposium on Synthetic Biology

New Wageningen Investment Theme “Synthetic Biology” - October 29th 2015

Synthetic Biology aims to design and build biological systems in a modular and flexible way, allowing biological units to be interchangeable and assembled, shared and reused in different contexts and between different laboratories. Synthetic Biology is a “way of working” that will accelerate research. It is also one of the five new Investment Themes of Wageningen UR: an opportunity!

The scope of Synthetic Biology is potentially tremendous: from molecules to ecosystems and for fundamental research as well as for applications. The model based reconstitution of a biological system from its building blocks, is a powerful tool to verify and increase fundamental understanding of that system. Examples of applications are molecules (e.g. vaccines, DNA), cellular devices (e.g. biosensors, light harvesting modules), tailored organisms (minimal microbes, re-programmed plants) and adapted ecosystems (e.g. microbial communities). These can find use in areas such as in health & nutrition, food security, biomaterials & green chemicals, biofuels & energy. Products that contribute to a bio-based economy.

Coupling science to application, create useful stuff based on in depth biological knowledge, is in our genes. But what are our strongholds, and are there typical Wageningen UR areas? Where are the opportunities and where should we invest?

How; program of the symposium
The aim of this symposium is to help to create a roadmap for the development of Synthetic Biology at Wageningen UR. In the morning session, we will inform each other about ongoing initiatives: cases that illustrate the scope and perspectives of Synthetic Biology as currently practised within WUR. This is to inspire you for an interactive break-out session in the afternoon. In groups, you will work out self-chosen research cases, implementing principles of Synthetic Biology. Subsequent plenary discussions will help to define the best opportunities and the roadmap and investments to reach these.

Invited: All researchers from Wageningen UR, interested in shaping Synthetic Biology


09.30  Vitor Martins dos Santos, Chair Systems and Synthetic Biology, AFSG
Opportunities in Synthetic Biology

09.55  Ruud Weusthuis, Associate Professor, Bioprocess Engineering, AFSG
Synthetic Biology in the Agrotechnology & Food Sciences Group

John van den Oost, Personal Chair, Microbiology, AFSG
Synthetic Microbial Cell Factories

Christian Fleck, Associate Professor, Systems and Synthetic Biology, AFSG
Optogenetic control of biological processes - Design, engineering, exploitation

10.30  Coffee/ Tea break

11.00  Jeroen Kortekaas, Project Leader, Central Veterinary Institute, ASG
Synthetic biology in the Animal Sciences Group

Antonios Zagaris, DLO researcher,  Central Veterinary Institute, ASG
Simulation-driven design of programmable DNA networks

Renko de Vries, Associate Professor, Physical Chemistry and Soft Matter
Engineering life cycles of unnatural viruses in cellular hosts

11.35  Dick de Ridder, Chair Bio-informatics, PSG
Synthetic biology in the Plant Sciences Group

Marnix Medema, Assistant Professor, Bioinformatics Group, PSG
Discovery and engineering of biosynthetic pathways

Maarten Jongsma, Senior Scientist, Bioscience, PRI, PSG
Synthetic biology and biosensors: tongue on a chip

12.10  Societal embedding
Philip MacNaghten, Personal Professor, Knowledge Technology and Innovation, WU Social Sciences
Responsible research innovation

Esther Kok, Head Dept Novel Foods and Agrichains, RIKILT
Legal and safety aspects

12.30 Lunch

13.30 Introduction to the break-out sessions

13.45 Break-out sessions Shaping Synthetic Biology @ Wageningen UR

15.00 Coffee/ Tea break

15.30 Presentations of the break-out sessions

16.00 Roadmap Synthetic Biology Wageningen UR

16.30 Drinks


Participating to this symposium is free and there is room for a maximum of 100 people. The places will be given on a first come first serve base. So register directly by submitting the registration form!


The symposium will be held in Hotel de Wageningsche Berg. More information can be found on their website and the week before the symposium participants will receive an e-mail with directions and last information.


For practical information or requests please contact the WCSB secretariat, Carolien Pinkster.