Home » Course: Introduction to Synthetic Biology at AngelList

Course: Introduction to Synthetic Biology at AngelList

Date: January 22, 2020

Time: 1 pm – 5 pm

Location: AngelList, 90 Gold Street, San Francisco, CA 94133, 1st Floor, Cafe

Course Overview

You will get an introduction to the world of biology, biotechnology and synthetic biology. We start with an input/output approach to biological systems, then explain where biological molecules come from and how they are formed, what they look like and how they perform such a wide variety of functions. We then see how these very same properties of native cell function allow us to probe, engineer, and modify cell function. With this core knowledge in hand, we’ll discuss state of the art industry applications, such as the ability of biological systems to produce a huge variety of chemicals including fuels, biomaterials, food and drugs and what modern methods are used for the engineering of biological systems. We will discuss the start-up and industry landscape and review the latest technologies coming to market.

Course Details

This course is designed for people with little or no previous knowledge of biology but with some background in the shared engineering skillset of creative problem solving, iteration, classification, and archiving results. We will use analogies and stories from computer science and engineering to describe how cells, genes and organisms function and highlight the differences between these systems, both on a physical level and in terms of technological development. This approach helps us find useful places to apply our effort to improve synthetic biology and to craft high quality projects. If you already have an understanding of biology and are looking for an intermediate or advanced courses in synthetic biology or biotechnology, please contact us.

Why Is It Unique?

Introduction to Synthetic Biology is a new course conceptualized and written by Dr. Josh Gilmore and Dr. John Cumbers. The course provides an interactive class in synthetic biology for non-experts. The course is written for tech-professionals in other fields such as computer science, to learn about the growing power of biology to perform useful tasks and make high value products from drugs to spiders silk. We focus on analyzing the similarities and differences in our fields of study to make these lessons accessible, inspirational, and memorable.

How Will Course Be Taught?

We’ll be using a number of modern teaching aids to make it easy for you to get the most out of the course. For example, we’ve structured the modules in manageable segments with core stories, examples, and cross-references to back up the content being explained. We cut through the jargon and help you tackle the latest research by using primarily literature and industry copy in the class. The core course competencies are reinforced in a variety of ways, including interactive Q&A.

Course Outline

1. An Introduction To Synthetic Biology

  We will discuss the core principles of biology, including safety, terminology, inputs, outputs and processes. We will develop a framework for organizing the lessons to come and adapt to working in a science that always finds room for exceptions. We will conclude by covering some simple, yet foundational experiments utilizing these principles that prepare us for the integrated approach to synthetic biology that follows.

2. The Cell Is A Microscopic Chemical Factory

  Cell function and regulation can be thought of as the workers, machinery, and management of a factory, accepting deliveries and work orders, shipping out product, and performing repairs, upgrades and modifications. From this top-down analysis of cellular function, we will replace our machinery with enzymes, our deliveries with small molecules, and our management with DNA and its regulators. We will take a brief look at how various types of cellular communication keeps the whole system running.

3. Structure-Activity Relationships

  As we delve deeper into the cell, we see that the way each part functions is correlated to it’s size, shape and activity. Mobility, orientation, and cellular localization also play critical roles in function. As we find similarities in structure and function across multiple systems, we can improve our classification of these parts. These broad categories then allow us to further organize biomolecules by type and function into a rapidly expanding toolkit.

4. Engineering Organisms, Cells, Genes And Genomes

  Now that we have a core understanding of native cellular function and know some methods of analysis, we turn to the core suite of the SynBio toolkit: molecular cloning, directed evolution, screens, and selections. We begin to develop our own methods for probing pathways and functions and learn to steer the cellular machine to an engineered function.

5. New Companies And Technologies In The Bioeconomy

  Get an overview of synthetic biology start-up companies and industry players. We’ll outline the recent investment trends in the field, what these companies are doing and how they are doing it. We’ll also discuss how new technologies are changing the landscape of biotechnology and look at predictions of future technologies to come.


About Education at SynBioBeta

In the fast growing field of synthetic biology, the need for continuing education has never been stronger. All ranges of interest are represented, from entry-level courses for students, investors and job seekers to entrepreneurial guidance for potential founders as well as industry workshops, executive seminars and corporate tours. SynBioBeta’s global efforts to serve the community through the advancement of knowledge is demonstrated through the various educational opportunities that are available in addition to completely customized programs. Our commitment to foster interest and understanding is enhanced by our blog, news digest and reports. The continuous education programs we provide have a proven record of success, and we are always available to discuss personalized needs and interests. In addition, we welcome opportunities for partnerships and collaboration. If you are interested in hosting a course, please contact us.

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