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Synthetic Biology for Human Health: Ethical and Legal Issues

Objective

Synthetic Biology (SynBio) is a relatively new field of scientific endeavour. Rather than seeking to understand living organisms, SynBio researchers aim to design and build entirely new living systems at the molecular, cellular, tissue and organism level. SynBio uses methods and tools from many disciplines, notably engineering, genetics, biotechnology and biochemistry; but also nanotechnology, physics and computational modelling. A key attribute is the use of principles of engineering with components from the life sciences to build or exploit living organisms rather than machines. Applications of SynBio research include environmental and health benefits, for example bio-fuels, biosensors and therapeutics.
Researchers in SynBio are keen to address the ethical, legal and social aspects of their work. To date, however, ELSI considerations of SynBio have targeted safety and regulatory aspects of the field as a whole. No studies have focussed specifically on the ethical implications of SynBio for human health. The SYBHEL project will address this gap to provide the first detailed analysis of one of the key global applications of SynBio.
SYBHEL will examine several aspects of SynBio as it applies to human health including: philosophical and social understandings of life (including new human-like entities); appropriate methodology for bioethical analysis in SynBio for health; ethical issues arising in utilising SynBio for health; regulatory and commercial aspects and public policy in SynBio for health care.
The RTD work-packages will be underscored by several cross-cutting themes to ensure maximum flexibility and relevance of outcomes. SYBHEL will therefore be informed by existing work on: the definition and scientific state of the art of SynBio; safety aspects and issues of distributive justice. SYBHEL will adopt an approach that recognises the non-reductionist, non-essentialist, dynamic and integrative nature of SynBio and will develop a comparable ethics response.

Field of science

  • /natural sciences/biological sciences/synthetic biology
  • /humanities/philosophy, ethics and religion/ethics
  • /natural sciences/biological sciences/genetics and heredity
  • /engineering and technology/nanotechnology
  • /natural sciences/biological sciences/biochemistry
  • /social sciences/political science/public policy
  • /engineering and technology/environmental biotechnology/biosensing

Call for proposal

FP7-SCIENCE-IN-SOCIETY-2008-1
See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

CP - Collaborative project (generic)

Coordinator

UNIVERSITY OF BRISTOL
Address
Beacon House Queens Road
BS8 1QU Bristol
United Kingdom
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 345 043
Administrative Contact
Elodie Mahieu-Wedande (Ms.)

Participants (4)

UNIVERSITAT ZURICH
Switzerland
EU contribution
€ 149 760
Address
Ramistrasse 71
8006 Zürich
Activity type
Other
Administrative Contact
Nikola Biller-Andorno (Prof.)
TUDASTARSADALOM KOZHASZNU ALAPITVANY

Participation ended

Hungary
EU contribution
€ 49 404
Address
Kacsoh Pongrac U; 1
2141 Csomor
Activity type
Research Organisations
Administrative Contact
Imre Szebik (Dr.)
UNIVERSIDAD DE LA IGLESIA DE DEUSTO ENTIDAD RELIGIOSA
Spain
EU contribution
€ 133 080
Address
Avenida De Las Universidades 24
48007 Bilbao
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Administrative Contact
Luis Ramón Arrieta Durana (Mr.)
KONINKLIJKE NEDERLANDSE AKADEMIE VAN WETENSCHAPPEN - KNAW
Netherlands
EU contribution
€ 126 300
Address
Kloveniersburgwal 29 Het Trippenhuis
1011 JV Amsterdam
Activity type
Other
Administrative Contact
Barbara Buis (Dr.)