Showing posts sorted by relevance for query george church. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query george church. Sort by date Show all posts

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Seeking Adventurous Humans...,

geneticsandsociety |  George Church hit a nerve when he recently discussed re-creating Neanderthals with an "adventurous human female" surrogate, in Der Spiegel. The media attention rapidly became fierce, with dozens of outlets carrying the remarks. Yesterday, Church told the Boston Herald that the whole kerfuffle was based on "poor translation." As for cloning a Neanderthal, he said, "I'm certainly not advocating it … I'm saying, if it is technically possible someday, we need to start talking about it today." 

It's good to hear Church disavowing the idea of using genetic engineering, synthetic biology and human surrogates to create a Neanderthal clone baby, at least for the time being. But it's disingenuous of him to shift all the blame onto the translation process. The phrase that clearly got the most attention was "adventurous female human" — and that comes straight from the prologue of his own recent book, Regenesis: How Synthetic Biology Will Reinvent Nature and Ourselves (co-authored with Ed Regis, published in October 2012):
If society becomes comfortable with cloning and sees value in true human diversity, then the whole Neanderthal creature itself could be cloned by a surrogate mother chimp — or by an extremely adventurous female human.
Is Church personally looking for a human surrogate to gestate a Neanderthal clone, right this minute? No. Is he willing to openly advocate for the scenario that he describes in some technical detail? Not forthrightly, and both in his book and in the interview that sparked the recent furor, he includes "ifs" and caveats. Does he think that the process will be technically feasible in the foreseeable future? Emphatically yes. He's been talking about this and similar projects for several years. For example:

New York Times, 2008, discussing the recreation of Neanderthals:
Dr. Church said there might be an alternative approach that would "alarm a minimal number of people." The workaround would be to modify not a human genome but that of the chimpanzee, which is some 98 percent similar to that of people. The chimp's genome would be progressively modified until close enough to that of Neanderthals, and the embryo brought to term in a chimpanzee.
"The big issue would be whether enough people felt that a chimp-Neanderthal hybrid would be acceptable, and that would be broadly discussed before anyone started to work on it," Dr. Church said.
Archaeology, 2010:
Church proposes to use the MAGE technique to alter a stem cell's DNA to match the Neanderthal genome. That stem cell would be left to reproduce, creating a colony of cells that could be programmed to become any type of cell that existed in the Neanderthal's body. Colonies of heart, brain, and liver cells, or possibly entire organs, could be grown for research purposes.
This technique could also be used to create a person. A stem cell with Neanderthal DNA could be implanted in a human blastocyst — a cluster of cells in the process of developing into an embryo. Then, all of the non-Neanderthal cells could be kept from growing. The individual who developed from that blastocyst would be entirely the result of Neanderthal genes. In effect, it would be a cloned Neanderthal.
… "We could learn a lot more from a living adult Neanderthal than we could from cell cultures," says Church. Special arrangements would have to be made to create a place for a cloned Neanderthal to live and pursue the life he or she would want, he says. The clone would also have to have a peer group, which would mean creating several clones, if not a whole colony. According to Church, studying those Neanderthals, with their consent, would have the potential to cure diseases and save lives.
Are you playing god, sir? Because you have the beard for it.
We're engineers, we're fixing only things that are broken. …
Can you bring things back from the dead? ...
We can make copies of things that have elements of animals or bacteria and so forth that were extinct.
You guys are working on the wooly mammoth, right?
It's a possibility.
Church has tests running in the lab around Neanderthal cells as he tries to determine what this species might have looked and acted like. ... "We have lots of Neanderthal parts around the lab. We are creating Neanderthal cells. Let's say someone has a healthy, normal Neanderthal baby. Well, then, everyone will want to have a Neanderthal kid. Were they superstrong or supersmart? Who knows? But there's one way to find out."
... How far off is this brave new world? Well, according to Church, probably not far at all. "The cheap human genome was supposed to arrive 50 years from now," he says. "It arrived this year. What if a cheap Neanderthal or mammoth arrives 50 years ahead of time?"

Thursday, July 30, 2015

dna is the construction material of the future

spiegel |  George Church, 58, is a pioneer in synthetic biology, a field whose aim is to create synthetic DNA and organisms in the laboratory. During the 1980s, the Harvard University professor of genetics helped initiate the Human Genome Project that created a map of the human genome. In addition to his current work in developing accelerated procedures for sequencing and synthesizing DNA, he has also been involved in the establishing of around two dozen biotech firms. In his new book, "Regenesis: How Synthetic Biology Will Reinvent Nature and Ourselves," which he has also encoded as strands of DNA and distributed on small DNA chips, Church sketches out a story of a second, man-made Creation.

SPIEGEL recently sat down with Church to discuss his new tome and the prospects for using synthetic biology to bring the Neanderthal back from exctinction as well as the idea of making humans resistant to all viruses.

SPIEGEL: Mr. Church, you predict that it will soon be possible to clone Neanderthals. What do you mean by "soon"? Will you witness the birth of a Neanderthal baby in your lifetime? 

Church: I think so, but boy there are a lot of parts to that. The reason I would consider it a possibility is that a bunch of technologies are developing faster than ever before. In particular, reading and writing DNA is now about a million times faster than seven or eight years ago. Another technology that the de-extinction of a Neanderthal would require is human cloning. We can clone all kinds of mammals, so it's very likely that we could clone a human. Why shouldn't we be able to do so? 

SPIEGEL: Perhaps because it is banned? 

Church: That may be true in Germany, but it's not banned all over the world. And laws can change, by the way. 

SPIEGEL: Would cloning a Neanderthal be a desirable thing to do? 

Church: Well, that's another thing. I tend to decide on what is desirable based on societal consensus. My role is to determine what's technologically feasible. All I can do is reduce the risk and increase the benefits. 

SPIEGEL: So let's talk about possible benefits of a Neanderthal in this world.

Church: Well, Neanderthals might think differently than we do. We know that they had a larger cranial size. They could even be more intelligent than us. When the time comes to deal with an epidemic or getting off the planet or whatever, it's conceivable that their way of thinking could be beneficial.

Monday, June 22, 2020

The Resurrection Of Christ Cathedral


wikipedia |  According to the official website, "the church was designed in a monumental Russian style, organically incorporating modern architectural approaches and innovations unique to the Orthodox church creation". The facades of the building are finished with metal, the arches are glazed. The walls of the church, decorated with murals, include battle scenes from military history and scripture texts. The decoration of the lower (small) church is made of ceramics and is decorated with Gzhel painting, with pieces of glass smalt used in the manufacture of mosaic panels. The central apse dedicated to the Resurrection of Christ is made in the form of a metal relief. The decoration of the church, the icon and the iconostasis (icon wall) are made of copper with enamels, as was done on the marching military icons. The image of the Saviour-Not-Made-by-Hands in the central dome of the church is the largest image of the Christ's face executed in mosaic.

Glass mosaics

Stained glass mosaics in the cathedral's vault feature various Red Army orders, accompanied by their respected ribbons that denote their class. Many of the orders display the faces of prominent military leaders from the Imperial Russian Army. The following orders are depicted in the mosaics: The Order of Alexander Nevsky (First Class), Order of Bogdan Khmelnitsky (First Class), Order of Ushakov (First Class), Order of Nakhimov (First Class), Order of Suvorov (First Class), Order of Kutuzov (First Class), Order of Victory, Order of the Red Banner, Order of the Red Star, and the Order of the Patriotic War (First Class).


Some of the sizes are symbolic. The height of the church along with the cross is 95 meters. The diameter of the drum of the main dome is 19.45 meters, symbolizing the year when the Great Patriotic War ended – 1945. The height of the belfry is 75 meters, a reference to the 75 years that passed in 2020 since the end of World War II. The height of the small dome is 14.18 meters – 1418 days and nights hostilities lasted in Great Patriotic War. The area of the church complex is 11,000 m². The capacity of the interior of the church is up to 6,000 people.


The bells are made at the Voronezh Foundry. The decoration of the bells repeats ornaments decorating the cathedral. The bells reflect the theme of Victory in the Great Patriotic War, icons of patrons of the Russian Army. The main bell-evangelist was decorated with bas-reliefs depicting key events of the Great Patriotic War. Work on the manufacture of bells was carried out for six months. The ensemble weighs more than 20 tons, it includes 18 bells, the largest of which weighs 10 tons.[7] 17 of the 18 bells are dedicated to the types and arms of the troops. On the one hand the emblem is applied to the bell, on the other, the image of the patron saint.[7] On 23 August 2019, bells are set on the belfry of the cathedral.


On 15 November 2019, a 80-ton central dome was erected on the cathedral, the height and diameter of which are 12 meters.[8] In total, the cathedral has six domes, four of which are identical, each of which weighs 34 tons, the central one is the largest and one is on the belfry. The design has a high alloy steel frame with a strength factor from 300 to 1500 years.

Main icon

The central icon of the Main Church of the Russian Armed Forces is the "Holy Saviour" in the main dome. The Icon of the Savior Not Made by Hands is a canonical image of the Holy Face of Jesus Christ, miraculously imprinted on a piece of material and transmitted by the Saviour himself to King Abgar V of Osroene. The face on the icon surrounds the images of the Most Holy Mother of God of Kazan, of Vladimir, of Smolensk and of Tikhvin, placed on artistic reliefs that depict significant events in the history of the Russian state. In the ark, which invariably accompanies the icon, there are eight particles of holy patrons: the great martyr George the Victorious, St. Andrew the First-Called, St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, St. Sergius of Radonezh, the great martyr Barbara, the apostle Peter, the great martyr Panteleimon the Healer, and also Fyodor Ushakov, the righteous commander of the Black Sea Fleet and one of the most revered saints in the fleet.

The image of the Savior is placed in a bronze fold and weighs about 100 kg. The icon itself without a fold has dimensions of about 98 × 84 × 10 cm.'

Saturday, May 22, 2010

a short course on synthetic genomics

Edge | On July 24, 2009, a small group of scientists, entrepreneurs, cultural impresarios and journalists that included architects of the some of the leading transformative companies of our time (Microsoft, Google, Facebook, PayPal), arrived at the Andaz Hotel on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood, to be offered a glimpse, guided by George Church and Craig Venter, of a future far stranger than Mr. Huxley had been able to imagine in 1948.

In this future — whose underpinnings, as Drs. Church and Venter demonstrated, are here already — life as we know it is transformed not by the error catastrophe of radiation damage to our genetic processes, but by the far greater upheaval caused by discovering how to read genetic sequences directly into computers, where the code can be replicated exactly, manipulated freely, and translated back into living organisms by writing the other way. "We can program these cells as if they were an extension of the computer," George Church announced, and proceeded to explain just how much progress has already been made. ... Click here to go to videos.

Sunday, July 09, 2023

Ark Of Gabriel: The Garden Protecting The Cognitive Infrastructure Of The Jungle

ng.opera  |  September 11, 2015, a terrible drama took place in Mecca. 107 people died and another 240 were injured. It was said that the origin of this accident would be a sandstorm that occurred instantly over the city of Mecca. Fans of conspiracy theories say Saudi Arabia has given Russia an ancient apocalyptic weapon discovered under the great mosque in Mecca, according to Daily Star

Through the darkest corners of the internet, there was a rumor that under the Masjid al-Haram mosque, the holiest place of Islam, a legendary weapon called the “Ark of Gabriel” was discovered.

According to the legend, the archangel Gabriel, who told the Virgin Mary that she would give birth to Jesus, and would have dictated the Qur’an to Prophet Mohammed – would also entrust to the founder of Islamic religion a box or an ark with an “enormous power”.

Mohammed was told to bury the ark in an altar, to a place of prayer, to be dug up only when the end of the world is near.

On September 11, 2015, in an attempt to move that mysterious weapon, it instantly ejected a huge plasma emission that was so powerful that it affected the crane that crashed across people, causing 107 victims.

A second attempt to move the mysterious weapon took place on September 24, 2015, but this time, that huge plasma emission caused thousands of deaths in Mina, very close to Mecca. The authorities blamed the “panic of the crowd” and hid the truth from public opinion.

The authorities did not give an official statement. A photo that was caught before the catastrophe raises many questions. It's a flash that was caught a few minutes before the tragedy was produced.

Immediately after the second catastrophe, His Holiness, Patriarch Kiril of Moscow, was contacted by the Saudis.

Why? Because the Russian Orthodox Church holds an old Islamic manuscript, which was rescued by the Roman Catholic crusaders in 1204 when they robbed the Hagia Sophia Cathedral in Constantinople (today Istanbul, Turkey).

This manuscript, titled “Gabriel’s Instructions to Muhammad”, presents the history of the instructions given to Mohammed by the angel Gabriel in a cave called Hira, located on Mount Jabal un-Nour, near Mecca.

The angel entrusted to Muhammad a “box/ark” with a “tremendous power,” belonging to God and only to God.

This “box” should not be used at all, but buried in an altar, “in the place of worship of angels before the creation of man,” until Qiyamah, that is, until “the Resurrection Day.”

Gabriel’s Ark to Russians?

What happened next to this mysterious “box” / “weapon” buried in Mecca?

There is information that “the weapon of the Angel Gabriel” might now be in the hands of the Russians, a Russian military ship, Admiral Vladimiski, leaving in November 2015 the Jeddah Saudi Port, carrying on board the mysterious object, called “Gabriel’s Ark”. 

And the Russians took this weapon to Antarctica. Why there? I have no idea, but not for nothing, the Nazis had secret bases in Antarctica.

There is something mysterious there …

Russia has provided specialists and a ship to transport the object. It is also said that to protect the ship, the Russians used nuclear weapons that produced the catastrophe.

On September 25, Patriarch Cyril, the head of the Russian church, had a meeting with representatives of the Saudi authorities.

It is said that the object discovered is of an extraordinary importance to the Russian church.

This information came to the press after a Kremlin report, which unofficially came to the hands of some media representatives.

The report explains that the 15 scientists who participated in the removal of the precious object from the underground, at the time of its extraction, produced a huge explosion.

A plasma emission caused an explosion in one of the tunnels. In ancient religious texts, it is said that God forbade the use of this mysterious, destructive object that Mohammed would have wanted to use.

This object was hidden under the largest mosque in Saudi Arabia. Putin was the first head of state to be notified by the Saudi authorities of the mysterious object discovered. He sent the famous military ship, Vladimirski, to carry the mysterious object.

A few days after this event, Putin ordered the bombing of Syria. It is also said that after this discovery there was a very close relationship between Russia and Saudi Arabia.

Interestingly, on February 12, 2016, a historic meeting, the first in over 1,000 years, took place in Cuba between Pope Francis, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church and Patriarch Kirill of Russia, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Why? The exact nature of the conversation is not known, but there is information “scattered” on the Internet that Pope Francis would have given Patriarch Kirill another secret Bible manuscript, owned by the Vatican Library, which speaks of the same “Gabriel’s Ark” and about which is said to have been written even by the Bible “Watchmen” (angels).

Leaders of the greatest Christian denominations, Pope Francis and Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, Kirill, met for the first time in nearly a thousand years.

After this meeting of Kirill with Pope Francis, in 6 days, on February 18, 2016, the patriarch of Russia goes directly to Antarctica (read the news on The Telegraph)!

Surprise surprise! What does Patriarch Kirill do in Antarctica? Beyond the official lying statements, he seems to have gone there because the Russian Navy Vladimir, carrying on board “Gabriel’s ark,” brought in Antarctica this mysterious ancient object.

With the help of the Pope’s manuscript, Kirill held a job (an “ancient ritual”) for Gabriel’s Ark at the Trinity Church of King George (Antarctica), a small Russian Orthodox church.

Interestingly, there are rumors that President Obama, during his visit to Argentina (March 26-27, 2016), made a secret visit to Antarctica, in the unknown Russian location where Gabriel’s ark is housed.

Bizarrely, part of the data is real. The Amiral Vladimisky vessel called the Jeddah port at the beginning of that month on a “military-religious” mission.

The reason for the appeal was not officially explained, the Russian press describing it as a mysterious business visit.

Navy spokesperson said:


Sorcha Faal, whose unfounded allegations about Gabriel’s Ark spread very quickly on the Internet, offer no reason beyond the fact that Islam and the Russian Orthodox Church are hostile to the Catholic Church for which Saudi Arabia would offer Russia this weapon.

Equally well, Sorcha Faal fails to explain why Russia would carry the gun to the Antarctic, but only provides some links to conspiracy theories about the existence of a “Nazi Nazi UFO base” at the South Pole.

Faal is considered to be a pseudonym of David Booth who owns the What Does It Mean site, the site that first appeared the information.

It is very unlikely that Booth, whose beliefs are the same, and that according to which a planet named Nibiru will strike the Earth until March 2016, have access to the Russian army’s secret reports.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

700 terabytes of data stored in one gram of dna

Information Storage in DNA from Wyss Institute on Vimeo.

harvard | Using next-generation sequencing technology and a novel strategy to encode 1,000 times the largest data size previously achieved in DNA, a Harvard geneticist encodes his book in life’s language.

Although George Church’s next book doesn’t hit the shelves until Oct. 2, it has already passed an enviable benchmark: 70 billion copies—roughly triple the sum of the top 100 books of all time. And they fit on your thumbnail.

That’s because Church, the Robert Winthrop Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School and a founding core faculty member of the Wyss Institute for Biomedical Engineering at Harvard University, and his team encoded the book, Regenesis: How Synthetic Biology Will Reinvent Nature and Ourselves, in DNA, which they then read and copied.

Biology’s databank, DNA has long tantalized researchers with its potential as a storage medium: fantastically dense, stable, energy efficient and proven to work over a timespan of some 3.5 billion years. While not the first project to demonstrate the potential of DNA storage, Church’s team married next-generation sequencing technology with a novel strategy to encode 1,000 times the largest amount of data previously stored in DNA.

The team reports its results in the Aug. 17 issue of the journal Science.

The researchers used binary code to preserve the text, images and formatting of the book. While the scale is roughly what a 5 ¼-inch floppy disk once held, the density of the bits is nearly off the charts: 5.5 petabits, or 1 million gigabits, per cubic millimeter. “The information density and scale compare favorably with other experimental storage methods from biology and physics,” said Sri Kosuri, a senior scientist at the Wyss Institute and senior author on the paper. The team also included Yuan Gao, a former Wyss postdoc who is now an associate professor of biomedical engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

And where some experimental media—like quantum holography—require incredibly cold temperatures and tremendous energy, DNA is stable at room temperature. “You can drop it wherever you want, in the desert or your backyard, and it will be there 400,000 years later,” Church said.

Reading and writing in DNA is slower than in other media, however, which makes it better suited for archival storage of massive amounts of data, rather than for quick retrieval or data processing. “Imagine that you had really cheap video recorders everywhere,” Church said. “Just paint walls with video recorders. And for the most part they just record and no one ever goes to them. But if something really good or really bad happens you want to go and scrape the wall and see what you got. So something that’s molecular is so much more energy efficient and compact that you can consider applications that were impossible before.”

About four grams of DNA theoretically could store the digital data humankind creates in one year.

Monday, January 09, 2023

La CucaRacha Didn't Start Nazi Persecution Of The Orthodox But He Exponentially Accelerated It

orthochristian |  Despite the fact that many churches of the war-torn districts of Donbass are destroyed, the faithful keep praying and are continuing the liturgical life on ruins of their shrines. 

On the feast of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos the parish of the Church of St. John of Kronstadt in Kirovskoye gathered for the first Divine Liturgy after the August’s shelling. The service was celebrated in the open air near ruins of the church which cannot be restored, reports the Horlivka and Sloviansk Diocese’s website.

On August 23, during artillery shelling of the town one shell broke through the roof in the center of the church and brought down the ceiling onto the city residents who were praying at the evening service. Three people were killed and several more people severely injured. Among those injured was the second priest of the church, Archpriest Sergy Piven. During the same shelling, one shell hit a hospital where two people were killed and many injured. 

The shelling is continuing in the town even now. According to the church Rector, Archpriest George Tsyganov, even in these days of the truce declared not long ago, the war is going on. Nearly every day there are new victims among the civilian residents and their houses are being damaged. Now, with coming of cold weather, many families are returning to the town in spite of the shelling.

It was decided to resume celebration of services near the ruined church because the parish of St. John of Kronstadt is the only church in the town. And many believers of Kirovskoye cannot imagine their lives without Liturgy. At the present time, Divine Liturgies are served every Sunday: during warm weather—in the church courtyard in front of the temple, during bad weather—in the summer kitchen building near it. 

Despite the lack of financial assets, the congregation members are not losing heart and are continuously helping the people who have remained in the town. There is a humanitarian aid collection center on the territory of the parish—warm clothes and other things for homeless fire victims and families in need are brought here from all over the town.

Until recently, the parish has on a voluntary basis helped rescue families from under the shelling and taken them to other Ukrainian towns or to the border with the Russian Federation. A parish driver, assistant churchwarden Vyacheslav Gusakovsky, was killed during one of such journeys while he was driving back from the Russian border. Later the Ukrainian media accused the slain driver of transporting weapons and explosives.





Friday, October 14, 2016

Granny Goodness in League With Soros to Cognitively Infiltrate the Catholic Church?!?!?!?!

Newsmax |  Yesterday, I stopped short of asking Hillary Clinton to fire John Podesta, her campaign chairman. In light of the latest Wikileaks revelations, she has no choice but to cut all ties with this man. The man is hell bent on creating mutiny in the Catholic Church and must therefore be fired.
We have long known that George Soros is the single most influential donor to dissident, and anti-Catholic, organizations. Now we know from Wikileaks what I long have suspected: John Podesta has been the most influential point man running offense for Soros.

Together, they have sought to manipulate public opinion against the Catholic Church.

In 2012, Sandy Newman, founder of the left-wing group, Voices for Progress, asked Podesta for advice on how best to "plant the seeds of the revolution." The revolution he sought was an attempt to sunder the Catholic Church.

Newman, who is Jewish, confessed that he was a rookie at trying to subvert the Catholic Church. But he was determined to do so. "There needs to be a Catholic Spring," Newman told Podesta, "in which Catholics themselves demand the end of a middle ages dictatorship and the beginning of a little democracy and respect for gender equality in the Catholic Church."

Podesta not only endorsed the plan to create a revolution within the Catholic Church — he boasted that he had been working on this for years. "We created Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good to organize for a moment like this," he said. "Likewise Catholics United. Like most Spring movements, I think this one will have be bottom up."

He recommended that Kathleen Kennedy Townsend be consulted on this effort.

The evidence is indisputable: Both of these groups, Catholics in Alliance and Catholics United, were created by Podesta, and funded by Soros, for the express purpose of staging a revolt within the Catholic Church.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Church Lab "Secret" Artificial Genome Meeting

thescientist |  Harvard Medical School’s George Church and his collaborators invited some 130 scientists, lawyers, entrepreneurs, and government officials to Boston last week (May 10) to discuss the feasibility and implementation of a project to synthesize entire large genomes in vitro. According to a statement Church provided to STAT News, such an endeavor could represent “the next chapter in our understanding of the blueprint of life.”

While the subject is an exciting one—on a smaller scale, Craig Venter’s group has synthesized the 1-million-base-pair genome of Mycoplasma mycoides—critics immediately took issue with the fact that this meeting was not open to the press. “This idea is an enormous step for the human species, and it shouldn’t be discussed only behind closed doors,” Northwestern University’s Laurie Zoloth told STAT News. She and Stanford University bioengineer Drew Endy published an article in Cosmos documenting their disapproval of the private nature of the meeting.

Church told STAT News that the original intention was to make the meeting open, but in anticipation of an imminent, high-profile publication on this project, he and his collaborators had to respect the journal’s embargo. However, Endy tweeted a photo of what appeared to be a message from the meeting organizers stating that they chose not to invite media “because we want everyone to speak freely and candidly without concerns about being misquoted or misinterpreted.”

Friday, September 17, 2021

Large-Scale Multiplex Genome Engineering

c-net |  You've heard of startups building computer chips, delivery drones and video chat apps. One called Colossal has a different goal: bring the woolly mammoth back from extinction by 2027 using CRISPR, a revolutionary gene-editing technology.

The plan isn't to re-create true woolly mammoths, but rather to bring their cold-adapted genetic traits, which include small ears and more body fat, to their elephant cousins, creating a hybrid that can wander the tundra where mammoths haven't been seen for 10,000 years. Colossal's co-founders are Chief Executive Ben Lamm, who started five companies before this, and George Church, a Harvard Medical School professor with deep CRISPR expertise. 

"Our true North Star is a successful restoration of the woolly mammoth, but also its successful rewilding into interbreeding herds in the Arctic," Lamm said. "We're now focusing on having our first calves in the next four to six years."

It's an interesting illustration of an imperative sweeping the tech world: Don't just make money, help the planet, too. Tesla's mission is to electrify transport to get rid of fossil fuels that hurt Earth. Bolt Threads wants to replace leather with a fungal fiber-based equivalent that's easier on the environment than animal agriculture. Colossal hopes its work will draw attention to biodiversity problems and ultimately help fix them.

Colossal has raised $15 million so far, led by investment firm Tulco. The startup's 19 employees work at its Dallas headquarters and in offices in Boston and Austin, Texas, and it's using its funds to hire more.

Artificial wombs and other technology spinoffs

Church said he expects spinoffs from the company's biotechnology and genetics work.

"The pipeline of large scale genome engineering techniques can be applied to many other applications beyond de-extinction, and therefore [are] most promising for commercialization," he said.

One technology ripe for commercialization is multiplex genome engineering, a technique Church helped develop that speeds genetic editing by making multiple changes to DNA at once.

Colossal also hopes to develop artificial wombs to grow its mammoth embryos. Just growing 10 woolly mammoths with surrogate elephant mothers isn't enough to get to the large-scale herds the company envisions.

At the foundation of Colossal's work is CRISPR. This technology, adapted from a method bacteria evolved to identify attacking viruses and chop up their DNA, is now a mainstay of genetic engineering, and Church has been involved since CRISPR's earliest days.

There are other ways Colossal hopes to help. Its gene editing technology could artificially add genetic diversity to species with only small surviving populations, Lamm said.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

constructive biology

Edge | As creative as we become, and as industrious and as good as we are at designing and manufacturing living things, which we've been doing since the stone age — no matter how good we get at that, it's like calling a candle a supernova. A candle is not a super nova; it's not even in the same league. And we, as intelligent designers, are not in the same league as the "Intelligent Designer" that designed the whole shebang. We're not designing sub-atomic particles from scratch; we're not designing the Big Bang. We're really not even designing life; we're just manipulating it.

Think of the cell as operating system, and engineers taking the place of traditional biologists in retooling stripped down components of cells (bio-bricks) in much the vein as in the late 70s when electrical engineers were working their way to the first personal computer by assembling circuit boards, hard drives, monitors, etc. It's not an accident that the phrase "bio-hackers" is in the conversation, as this new crowd has a lot in common with the computer engineers who were around the homebrew computer club of the '70s leading the development of the personal computer.

Central to this move to engineer biology, to synthesize life, is Harvard researcher George Church.

"Today I am involved in a number of synthesis and sequencing endeavors," he says. "First, the BioFab group works together on 'constructive biology', which has a number of tightly overlapping parts of a Venn diagram."

"There's IGEM, 'International Genetically Engineered Machines' group, which is now in its fourth year , and has 39 universities involved. It's a very interesting social phenomenon; it involves wiki's and a lot of undergraduates, 39 teams of 10 to 20 people each. It's amazingly intense and enjoyable — kind of like the robot competitions, or the DARPA Grand Challenges. They compete to make cool things during the summer, and some go year-round working on those cool things — engineering life.

"Some of the people who started that group are also part of BioBrick Foundation, a non-profit, and a company called Codon Devices. So the founders of the field are defined by the intersection, or union, of those sets, depending how you look at it.

"BioFab group is also a subset of the Codon Devices scientific advisory board. And that's a Cambridge company that does synthetic biology. We're distinct from IGEM and the BioBrick Foundation and other synthetic biology groups that are emerging. "

Church points out that "almost every new thing is a combination of two old things. This is a kind of a union of engineering design principles that might be familiar to people in large-scale integrated circuits, combining that with genetic engineering, metabolic engineering, both of which are older — decades old, not ancient — and systems biology, which itself is a combination of feedback concepts, differential equations and so forth — those could be incorporated as well. There's also some bringing together of the chemistry and automation to make DNA — large highly accurate pieces of DNA — combining in concepts of laboratory evolution, which is relatively new. These things all meet together — kind of all these streams flowing together suddenly, all at once, into synthetic biology. Enough old things brought together into a new package that it consitutes an invention, a new field."

Unlike typical labs, a BioFab "Lab" can make a copy of itself. "Once you have a really great engineered biology system, you can make as many copies of it as you want: you could scale it up… (it does it itself; it's self-assembling). It's a dream of mechanical, electrical, and chemical Fab Labs — if they ever made, say, a milling machine that could make a copy of itself. That would be great. Then they'd have a self-replicating machine; that would be a milestone."

There are inevitable questions surrounding Church and his colleagues about "playing God" and there are also concerns about the kinds of bio-terror, lab accidents, and Frankenstein-like creations that have informed the writings of such thinkers as Bill Joy and Lord (Martin) Rees. These concerns were addressed by researchers in the field last month at SythenticBiology2.0, the second annual conference in this new field, which was convened at US-Berkeley. According to their Web site, "the SB2.0 community is developing a written statement describing some principles for advancing this new field in a safe and effective way, based on the third day of discussions and here."

Friday, June 03, 2016

The Genome Project - Write

NYTimes |  “By focusing on building the 3Gb of human DNA, HGP-write would push current conceptual and technical limits by orders of magnitude and deliver important scientific advances,” they write, referring to three gigabases, the three billion letters in the human genome.

Scientists already can change DNA in organisms or add foreign genes, as is done to make medicines like insulin or genetically modified crops. New “genome editing” tools, like one called Crispr, are making it far easier to re-engineer an organism’s DNA blueprint.

But George Church, a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School and one of the organizers of the new project, said that if the changes desired are extensive, at some point it becomes easier to synthesize the needed DNA from scratch.

“Editing doesn’t scale very well,” he said. “When you have to make changes to every gene in the genome it may be more efficient to do it in large chunks.”

Besides Dr. Church, the other organizers of the project are Jef Boeke, director of the Institute for Systems Genetics at NYU Langone Medical Center; Andrew Hessel, a futurist at the software company Autodesk; and Nancy J. Kelley, who works raising money for projects. The paper in Science lists a total of 25 authors, many of them involved in DNA engineering.

Autodesk, which has given $250,000 to the project, is interested in selling software to help biologists design DNA sequences to make organisms perform particular functions. Dr. Church is a founder of Gen9, a company that sells made-to-order strands of DNA.

Dr. Boeke of N.Y.U. is leading an international project to synthesize the complete genome of yeast, which has 12 million base pairs. It would be the largest genome synthesized to date, though still much smaller than the human genome.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

conservative christian leaders tell followers to disobey

WaPo | Conservative Christian leaders unveiled a declaration Friday calling on Christians not to comply with rules and laws forcing them to accept abortion, same-sex marriage and other ideals that go against their religious doctrines.

The declaration urges Christians to practice civil disobedience to defend their convictions, even though some signers of the document backed away from the strong language.

The Catholic Archbishop of Washington, Donald W. Wuerl, was among the first signers of the Manhattan Declaration. He appeared at a news conference in the District on Friday to announce it, even as the Church was considering a city-proposed compromise on its same-sex marriage measure. Church officials say the bill, as it stands, would require faith groups, such as the church-run Catholic Charities, to extend benefits to married same-sex partners, an example of what the declaration's authors see as a violation of religious liberty law.

"We are Orthodox, Catholic, and evangelical Christians who have united at this hour to reaffirm fundamental truths about justice and the common good, and to call upon our fellow citizens, believers and non-believers alike, to join us in defending them," the declaration says. It lists the "fundamental truths" as the "sanctity of human life, the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife, and the rights of conscience and religious liberty."

The declaration is signed by more than 125 Orthodox, Catholic and evangelical leaders. Other leaders at the news conference at the National Press Club included Cardinal Justin Rigali, outgoing chairman of the U.S. Catholic bishops' Committee for Pro-Life Activities; Pentecostal leader Harry Jackson, pastor of a Beltsville church; and evangelical activist Tony Perkins. Other signers include evangelical leader and Watergate-era figure Chuck Colson and academics Timothy George and Robert George.

The leaders are urging the public to sign the online document.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

McCain's Spiritual Guide

Senator John McCain hailed as a spiritual adviser an Ohio megachurch pastor who has called upon Christians to wage a "war" against the "false religion" of Islam with the aim of destroying it.

On February 26, McCain appeared at a campaign rally in Cincinnati with the Reverend Rod Parsley of the World Harvest Church of Columbus, a supersize Pentecostal institution that features a 5,200-seat sanctuary, a television studio (where Parsley tapes a weekly show), and a 122,000-square-foot Ministry Activity Center. That day, a week before the Ohio primary, Parsley praised the Republican presidential front-runner as a "strong, true, consistent conservative." The endorsement was important for McCain, who at the time was trying to put an end to the lingering challenge from former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, a favorite among Christian evangelicals. A politically influential figure in Ohio, Parsley could also play a key role in McCain's effort to win this bellwether state in the general election. McCain, with Parsley by his side at the Cincinnati rally, called the evangelical minister a "spiritual guide."

Why would McCain court Parsley? He has long had trouble figuring out how to deal with Christian fundamentalists, an important bloc for the Republican Party. During his 2000 presidential bid, he referred to Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell as "agents of intolerance." But six years later, as he readied himself for another White House run, McCain repudiated that remark. More recently, his campaign hit a rough patch when he accepted the endorsement of the Reverend John Hagee, a Texas televangelist who has called the Catholic Church "the great whore" and a "false cult system." After the Catholic League protested and called on McCain to renounce Hagee's support, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee praised Hagee's spiritual leadership and support of Israel and said that "when [Hagee] endorses me, it does not mean that I embrace everything that he stands for or believes in." After being further criticized for his Hagee connection, McCain backed off slightly, saying, "I repudiate any comments that are made, including Pastor Hagee's, if they are anti-Catholic or offensive to Catholics." But McCain did not renounce Hagee's endorsement.

McCain's relationship with Parsley is politically significant. In 2004, Parsley's church was credited with driving Christian fundamentalist voters to the polls for George W. Bush. With Ohio expected to again be a decisive state in the presidential contest, Parsley's World Harvest Church and an affiliated entity called Reformation Ohio, which registers voters, could be important players within this battleground state. Considering that the Ohio Republican Party has been decimated by various political scandals and that a popular Democrat, Ted Strickland, is now the state's governor, McCain and the Republicans will need all the help they can get in the Buckeye State this fall. It's a real question: Can McCain win the presidency without Parsley?

The McCain campaign did not respond to a request for comment regarding Parsley and his anti-Islam writings. Parsley did not return a call seeking comment.

"The last thing I want to be is another screaming voice moving people to extremes and provoking them to folly in the name of patriotism," Parsley writes in Silent No More. Provoking people to holy war is another matter. About that, McCain so far is silent.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

is pope francis smart, conservative, or something less familiar?

NYTimes |  In Pope Francis’ most significant move yet to reshape the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States, Blase J. Cupich took his seat in Chicago on Tuesday as archbishop of the nation’s third-largest Catholic archdiocese and called on the church not to be afraid of change.

In a multilingual installation Mass at Holy Name Cathedral, with American bishops, his large extended family and Mayor Rahm Emanuel looking on, Archbishop Cupich was handed the golden crosier, a shepherd’s staff, that belonged to a powerful liberal predecessor, Cardinal George Mundelein, who became archbishop of Chicago 99 years ago and served for 24 years.

“We as a church should not fear leaving the security of familiar shores, the peacefulness of the mountaintop of our self-assuredness, but rather walk into the mess,” Archbishop Cupich said in an upbeat and plain-spoken homily.

With Archbishop Cupich now seated, Pope Francis gets a media-savvy American communicator in tune with his message of reinvigorating the church by stressing mercy over judgmentalism, change over stasis, and the imperative for all Catholics to go to the margins of society to serve the poor, migrants and those without hope. It is a message that not every bishop has enthusiastically embraced.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

the prayer

Video - Ray Scott's Prayer for Gov. George Wallace.

Today's selection continues the "something different" theme. Redd Foxx had a comedy routine called "The Prayer" which found Foxx taking on the tones of a black preacher to wish a litany of disasters upon Alabama governor George Wallace, then one of most prominent faces of segregationism (he of "segregation now, segregation forever" infamy). Legendary singer/songwriter/producer/"Black Godfather" Andre Williams hooked up with comedian/singer Ray Scott to record a version of the routine, in which Scott put all of his fervor into the presentation with appropriate church organ accompaniment and background vocalists adding a "church" feel. The result had a 1970 release as a Checker 45 (backed with the countrified novelty "Lily White Mama, Jet Black Dad"), which led to an LP the following year. I can understand the LP being released - Chess had a strong series of party records featuring Pigmeat Markham, Moms Mabley and others - but a 45 release strikes me as slightly unusual, as I'm sure radio airplay for "The Prayer" was non-existent, for reasons discussed below.

"The Prayer" is pretty startling despite its humorous tack, as Scott's pleading includes requests that "the Governor" (as Wallace is referred to on the record) have an auto accident (involving a gasoline truck) and end up in the hospital being operated on by "a junkie with a gorilla on his back and an orangutan in his room ... [with] a rusty scalpel in his hand," among other things. I'm sure "church folks" found the whole thing sacriligious, although the lyrics must've struck a nerve among its listeners. (I heard several party albums from the '70s which made it clear that, at least in some circles, the shooting of Wallace in 1972, which left the governor-turned-presidential candidate partially paralyzed, was seen by some as an act of justice; in the later '70s Wallace would experience a religous conversion and disavow his previous stance.) A record like "The Prayer" probably couldn't get released today, in light of the Dixie Chicks' travails following a criticism of the President at a concert, making it even more of an oddity today.

The Prayer
Written by Redd Foxx
Performed by Ray Scott

Bow your heads in prayer
We shall now pray for the governor

Oh Lord
Let the governor have a 17-car accident
With a gasoline truck
Thats been hit by a match wagon
Over the Grand Canyon

And if thats not bad enough for the governor
Let the ambulance thats taking him to the hospital
(Four flat tyres?)
Let the motor crack
Let the (block?) bust
Let the windshield crack
Let the driver have a stroke
And (?)
And run into a brick wall
Thats housing nuclear warheads and TNT

And if thats not bad enough for the governor
When he gets to the hospital
Let the doctor be a junkie
With a gorilla on his back
An orang-utan in his room
And let the hospital catch on fire
And let the hospital ceiling cave in on the operating table
And let the doctor have a rusted scalpel in his hand

Oh Lord if thats not bad enough for the governor
Lord have mercy
Let him be stranded in the Sahara desert
10,000 miles of dry sand
Lips cracked
Crawling on his hands and knees
And let him come up on a cool running fruit stand
(?) in that hot desert
And let them have a black waiter back there like they always have

And if thats not bad enough for the governor
Lord have mercy
Let lightning strike him in the heart 38 times
Let muddy water run in his grave
And let possums, 14 of them, suffering from hydrophobia
Eat through the casket looking for some new meat and make him so ugly
Until he will resemble a gorilla sucking hot Chinese mustard
Lying across a railroad track with freight trains, 22 of them, running across his kneecaps

And if thats not bad enough for the governor
(Let him suffer)
Let him live in agony
When he wakes up tomorrow morning
Oh Lord
Let him have nappy hair and be black like me

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Further Tribal Demands On Obamamandius

From the Jerusalem Post - Obama and the Jews

With all due deference to the Obama celebrity supporters like Steven Spielberg and George Soros, can Jews herein Israel and in America and other friends of Israel risk a vote for Obama in November? A quick look at the facts should switch on a big red light in most peoples' minds.

First and foremost among the considerations that should trouble friends of Israel is the foreign policy team Obama has selected to advise him. The composition of a candidate's advisory panel is usually a very good indicator of where the candidate will come out on the issues if elected.

This was the test this writer applied to George W. Bush in 2000 at a time when most pundits in Israel and in the Jewish community predicted that his Middle East policy would be a carbon copy of his father's, meaning trouble for Israel. But Bush, the son, had selected a blue-ribbon team of pragmatic and conservative advisors whose views on the Middle East were markedly pro-Israel and pro-democracy. Subsequently, the W. Bush Era became among the closest allies of Israel in her 60-year history.

The opposite is the case with the Obama team. Headed up by Jimmy Carter's ("Israel is an apartheid state") national security advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Obama's team includes such problematic figures as Anthony Lake, Robert O. Malley and Susan Rice.

One commentator, citing an article by the staunchly left-wing Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, has noted that an Obama presidency including a foreign policy team that included the foregoing and their ideological soul-mates, "would likely have an approach towards Israel radically at odds with those of previous Presidents (both Republican and Democrat)" and is the candidate apt to be "least supportive" of Israel.

Brzezinski has been disseminating vitriol about Israel for three decades and recently publicly defended the Walt-Mearsheimer study which concluded that US policy towards Israel was the result of Jewish pressure and inconsistent with American interests. More recently Brzezinski called for the US to initiate dialogue with Hamas, described Israel's action in the Second Lebanon War as a killing campaign against civilian hostages and earlier this month made a trip to confer with Syria's President Assad, ostensibly unbeknownst to the Obama campaign.

Robert O. Malley, another former Carter Administration diplomat and President Clinton's special advisor on Arab-Israeli affairs, is an unabashed advocate for the Palestinians, co-authoring a spate of anti-Israel propaganda with former Arafat advisor, Hussein Agha, including a tract that blames Israel for the failure of the 2000 Camp David talks and another piece which blames the Bush Administration for continuing Israeli-Palestinian strife.

And then there is Susan Rice, foreign policy advisor to the ill-fated John Kerry presidential campaign in 2004, where she concocted the idea of solving the Middle East problem by appointing none other than Jimmy Carter and James Baker as negotiators, an idea which was later repudiated by her own boss as being unbalanced against Israel. Nor are these the only "bad apples" in Obama's foreign policy bin…

Another problematic indicator is candidate's close association with Jeremiah Wright, Jr., pastor of the Trinity United Community Church (a member of the United Church for Christ, which itself has been rebuked for anti-Israel bias), who is well known for his virulent anti-Israel remarks, including a call for a divestment campaign against Israel for the "injustice and the racism under which the Palestinians have lived because of Zionism."

Nor should bring much solace to Jewish voters and friends of Israel that Reverend Wright counts among his closest friends, the nefarious anti-Semite, Louis Farrakhan for whom Judaism is a "gutter religion" and Jews are "bloodsuckers." Obama could have picked any one of hundreds of churches in Chicago's South Side; he picked Jeremiah Wright's parsonage, which awarded Farrakhan with the Jeremiah Wright Lifetime Achievement Trumpeteer Award in 2007. And Wright's church is the single largest beneficiary of Obama's charitable giving. Even Jewish columnist Richard Cohen of the Washington Post felt compelled to ask Obama to clarify his relationship with these anti-Jewish and anti-Israel community leaders, questioning why Obama has stayed steadfast in his allegiance to Pastor Wright over the years.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

nsa spying on u.s. citizens was first reported in 1975..,

foreignpolicy | As Vietnam War protests grew, the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) tapped the overseas communications of prominent American critics of the war -- including a pair of sitting U.S. senators. That's according to a recently declassified NSA history, which called the effort "disreputable if not outright illegal."

For years the names of the surveillance targets were kept secret. But after a decision by the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel, in response to an appeal by the National Security Archive at George Washington University, the NSA has declassified them for the first time. The names of the NSA's targets are eye-popping. Civil rights leaders Martin Luther King and Whitney Young were on the watch list, as were the boxer Muhammad Ali, New York Times journalist Tom Wicker, and veteran Washington Post humor columnist Art Buchwald. But perhaps the most startling fact in the declassified document is that the NSA was tasked with monitoring the overseas telephone calls and cable traffic of two prominent members of Congress, Sen. Frank Church (D-Idaho) and Sen. Howard Baker (R-Tenn.). As shocking as the recent revelations about the NSA's domestic eavesdropping have been, there has been no evidence so far of today's signal intelligence corps taking a step like this, to monitor the White House's political enemies. 

As the Vietnam War escalated during Lyndon B. Johnson's presidency, domestic criticism and protest movements abounded. Protesters surrounded the Pentagon in the fall of 1967 and two years later organized demonstrations and the Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam. The scale of the dissent angered Johnson as well as his successor, Richard Nixon. As fervent anti-communists, they wondered whether domestic protests were linked to hostile foreign powers, and they wanted answers from the intelligence community. The CIA responded with Operation Chaos, while the NSA worked with other intelligence agencies to compile watch lists of prominent anti-war critics in order to monitor their overseas communications. By 1969, this program became formally known as "Minaret."

The NSA history does not say when these seven men were placed on the watch list -- or, more importantly, who decided to task the NSA to monitor their communications. But the simple fact that the NSA secretly intercepted the telephone calls and telegrams of these prominent Americans, including two U.S. senators, at the White House's behest is alarming in the extreme. It demonstrates just how easily the agency's vast surveillance powers have been abused in the past and can be abused even today

Minaret's notoriety in U.S. intelligence history is well deserved, even if details of the operation have faded from the public's memory over the past 40 years. Minaret and its companion program, Operation Shamrock, were virtual progenitors of the now-notorious warrantless domestic eavesdropping program that George W. Bush's administration ran from 2001 to 2004. Moreover, the 1975 disclosure of the programs' existence by the Church Committee, chaired by a Minaret target himself, Sen. Frank Church, was one of the principal reasons that Congress passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in 1978. An incredibly broad warrant, issued under that act, to monitor the call records of Verizon Business Network Services customers was the first of many documents leaked this year by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. 

Carried out between 1967 and 1973, the watch list of domestic critics had its origins in the paranoia that pervaded the White House during the administrations of Johnson and Nixon, as public discontent over the Vietnam War grew. The idea of the watch list, however, developed before the war in order to monitor narcotics traffickers and possible threats to the president. The NSA watch list began informally in the summer of 1967, prompted by Johnson's belief that the growing number of anti-Vietnam War demonstrations and race riots sweeping the United States were being covertly instigated and sustained by the Soviet Union and its allies. Most names placed on the first NSA watch list came from the FBI and the CIA, which wanted any intelligence concerning foreign governments' involvement with American anti-war and civil rights organizations. In 1969, during Nixon's administration, the watch list became formally known as Minaret.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Authoriteh's Restive About What You Peasants Get Up To With Synthetic Biology

FT  |  Paul Dabrowa does not know if it is illegal to genetically modify beer at home in a way that makes it glow. The process involves taking DNA information from jellyfish and applying it to yeast cells, then using traditional fermenting methods to turn it into alcohol. But he is worried that it could be against the law given that it involves manipulating genetic material. “This stuff can be dangerous in the wrong hands, so I did that in an accredited lab,” he says, adding that he himself has only got as far as making yeast cells glow in a Petri dish. For the most part Dabrowa, a 41-year old Melbourne-based Australian who styles himself as a bit of an expert on most things, prefers to conduct his biohacking experiments in his kitchen. He does this mostly to find cures for his own health issues. Other times just for fun.

In recent years the community of hobbyists and amateurs Dabrowa considers his kin has been energised by the falling cost and growing accessibility to gene-editing tools such as Crispr. This has led to an explosion of unchecked experimentation in self-constructed labs or community facilities focused on biological self-improvement.

Despite a lack of formal microbiological training, Dabrowa has successfully used faecal transplants and machine learning to genetically modify his own gut bacteria to lose weight without having to change his daily regime. The positive results he’s seen on himself have encouraged him to try to commercialise the process with the help of an angel investor. He hopes one day to collect as many as 3,000 faecal samples from donors and share the findings publicly.

Much of his knowledge — including the complex bits related to gene-editing — was gleaned straight from the internet or through sheer strength of will by directly lobbying those who have the answers he seeks. “Whenever I was bored, I went on YouTube and watched physics and biology lectures from MIT [Massachusetts Institute of Technology],” he explains. “I tried the experiments at home, then realised I needed help and reached out to professors at MIT and Harvard. They were more than happy to do so.”

At the more radical end of the community are experimentalists such as Josiah Zayner, a former Nasa bioscientist, who became infamous online after performing gene therapy on himself in front of a live audience. Zayner’s start-up, The Odin — to which Crispr pioneer and professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School George Church is an adviser — has stubbornly resisted attempts to regulate its capacity to sell gene-editing kits online in the idealistic belief that everyone should be able to manage their own DNA.

These garage scientists might seem like a quirky new subculture but their rogue mindset is starting to generate consternation among those who specialise in managing biological threats in governments and international bodies.

In 2018 the states that are signatories to the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) identified gene editing, gene synthesis, gene drives and metabolic pathway engineering as research that qualifies as “dual use”, meaning it is as easy to deploy for harmful purposes as it is for good.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

designing genomes from scratch will be the next revolution in biology.

TheScientist | A little over one year ago, my team at the J. Craig Venter Institute announced the construction of the first cell completely controlled by a synthetic genome. After 8 years of work on DNA synthesis, assembly, and error correction, and on new ways to transplant and boot up chromosomes, we succeeded in creating a cell that used only a chemically synthesized chromosome to code for all aspects of the cellular phenotype.

DNA is the software of the cell, and our studies have shown that when we change the software we change the species. Because it is based on the digitized DNA sequence, the design of synthetic genomes provides a true interface between the computer and biological life. While genome design will dominate the future, the field has been limited to a few gene changes as a part of pathway design and to the engineering of novel biological circuits, such as oscillators, that can be used to construct semisynthetic biological machines.

One major limitation is the cost—in both money and time—associated with genome modification. For example, it required over a decade of work and reportedly more than $100 million for the team at DuPont to make a dozen or so modifications to the E. coli genome so that it would convert glucose into propanediol to make “renewably sourced” fibers. And while some clever techniques for codon modification in E. coli have emerged recently from the laboratory of George Church, these are a long way from genomes designed and constructed to perform unique metabolic activities.

The tools and techniques developed by my team to assemble a completely synthetic bacterial genome, while relatively efficient (we built the entire 1.1-million-base-pair synthetic genome in less than one month), are also still quite expensive ($0.30 per base pair) due to the current cost of oligonucleotide synthesis. Fortunately, this work has helped create a demand for rapid, accurate, cheap DNA synthesis, which has led to some very novel approaches that could help reduce these costs. Over the past 23 years, the cost of DNA sequencing has dropped 8 orders of magnitude. Similar improvements with DNA synthesis await technological breakthroughs that are tantalizingly close.