To carry out its mission to produce practical results for the benefit of society, the UC Berkeley Synthetic Biology Institute collaborates closely with partners in the wider research community.. SBI is a key player in a robust ecosystem of research institutions that advance foundational knowledge and applications in synthetic biology.
Principal Institutional Partners
SBI’s contributions are strengthened by its collaboration with a wide network of UC-based institutions involved in synthetic biology. These partners add to SBI’s own interdisciplinary mix, which includes leadership from UC Berkeley’s Department of Bioengineering and Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, plus a roster of researchers representing eight departments in four colleges at UC Berkeley and three divisions at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
Joint Bioenergy Institute (JBEI)
The Joint BioEnergy Institute is a San Francisco Bay Area scientific partnership led by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. It includes the Berkeley and Davis campuses of the University of California, Sandia National Laboratories, the Carnegie Institution for Science, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. JBEI’s primary scientific mission is to advance the development of the next generation of biofuels — liquid fuels derived from the solar energy stored in plant biomass. JBEI is one of three U.S. Department of Energy Bioenergy Research Centers.
Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center (SynBERC)
Led by UC Berkeley, the Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center is a multi-institution research effort to lay the foundation for synthetic biology. It brings together biologists, engineers, and scientists from world-class institutions to produce the tools, techniques, and scientific understanding needed to design and construct a broad range of biological tools for health, energy, environment, and, ultimately, human welfare. SynBERC is funded by the National Science Foundation's Engineering Research Center program. Partners include Harvard University, MIT, Stanford University, and Prairie View A&M University.
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Physical Biosciences Division
This division of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is spurring the development of biology as a quantitative, predictive science. Its work encompasses synthetic biology and related initiatives, including the production of clean energy, the production of heavy metals by microbes, and the use of computational tools to model and understand complex spatio-temporal interactions observed at the molecular level.
California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences (QB3)
The California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences is a consortium of three University of California campuses — San Francisco, Berkeley, and Santa Cruz — and of more than 200 laboratories at those institutions. Created in 2000 to fuel California’s bioeconomy, QB3 fosters cross-campus and interdisciplinary collaborations within UC and stimulates partnerships between its researchers and private industry. To realize the potential of discoveries, QB3 provides proof-of-concept funding, start-up incubator space, and educational programs. This alliance allows scientists from academia and industry to address the unmet needs of society, setting the stage for fundamental discoveries to drive the technologies, products, and industries of the 21st century.
Berkeley Stem Cell Center
The Berkeley Stem Cell Center brings together more than 40 principal investigators from UC Berkeley, Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory into a highly collaborative, multidisciplinary, and creative research environment. The major objective of the center is to carry out high-quality basic and translational stem-cell research essential for the development of novel therapies to treat human disease. Synthetic biology of mammalian cells is key to controlling the differentiation processes within cells, and new technologies such as virally-directed biomaterials are being used to create novel substrates to direct stem-cell growth and development.
Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI)
The Energy Biosciences Institute is harnessing advanced knowledge in biology, the physical sciences, engineering, and environmental and social sciences to devise viable solutions to global energy challenges and reduce the impact of fossil fuels on global warming. It is a unique collaboration between UC Berkeley, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and BP, which supports EBI with a 10-year, $500 million grant. EBI relies on synthetic biology for agricultural engineering, biomass deconstruction, and biofuels synthesis.
The Molecular Foundry
With four core nano-based research themes and six interdependent research facilities, The Molecular Foundry at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is a Department of Energy-funded program providing support to researchers from around the world whose work can benefit from or contribute to nanoscience. Through unparalleled access to state-of-the-art instruments, materials, technical expertise, and training, the Foundry gives researchers the tools to enhance the development and understanding of the synthesis, characterization, and theory of nanoscale materials.
With pilot funding from the National Science Foundation, BIOFAB (International Open Facility Advancing Biotechnology) is the world's first biological design-build facility. Professionally staffed and for the public benefit, BIOFAB co-located with the Joint Bioenergy Institute and is affiliated with SynBERC, both principal SBI partners. The facility is led by bioengineers from UC Berkeley and Stanford University. BIOFAB projects are designed to produce broadly useful collections of standard biological parts that can be made freely available to both academic and commercial users. At its full operational capacity, the facility will be capable of producing tens of thousands of professionally engineered, high-quality, standard biological parts each year.
Center for Computational Biology (CCB)
The Center for Computational Biology is a strategic initiative of UC Berkeley that is advancing understanding of the deep interface between the computational and biological sciences through interdisciplinary research and education.
DOE Joint Genome Institute (JGI)
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Joint Genome Institute unites the expertise in DNA sequencing, informatics, and technology development of five national laboratories to advance genomics in support of the DOE missions related to clean energy generation and environmental characterization and cleanup. Participating national labs are Lawrence Berkeley, Lawrence Livermore, Los Alamos, Oak Ridge, and Pacific Northwest, aided by the expertise of the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology JGI is located in Walnut Creek, Calif., and is operated by the University of California for the U.S. Department of Energy, with support from the DOE Office of Science.
What makes SBI unique?
It’s no surprise, given the exciting potential of synthetic biology, that many public and private groups are involved in this field. Foundational research, applications, and policy issues all are receiving much attention. In the Berkeley research community alone, several distinguished academic departments and research entities are part of a local “synbio ecosystem.” Each contributes a distinct role and serves distinct needs in advancing synthetic biology.
What is SBI’s place in this network? SBI is focused on developing the field of synthetic biology, not on any one particular application area. And, first and foremost, SBI is a bridge between academia and industry. Through its collaborative model, SBI’s work is closely integrated with the research goals of companies that are global leaders in innovation. The SBI research mission is to translate the work of its affiliated researchers into products, processes, and technologies that meet real-world demands. Its Industry Members play the essential role of identifying those demands, along with funding the research to address them.