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EYE ON CHINA
BGI collaborates with the Edinburgh Genome Foundry to synthesize the largest synthetic eukaryotic chromosome in the UK
Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI), one of the world’s largest genomics research centers, has signed a collaboration agreement with the University of Edinburgh, UK to pursue an ambitious synthetic biology “construction” project worth up to £1Million. The two institutes will team up to synthesize synthetic yeast chromosome VII in the Edinburgh Genome Foundry, recently funded by the UK’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and co-directed by Prof. Susan Rosser and Dr. Patrick Yizhi Cai.

Faculty members from Centre for Synthetic and Systems Biology (SynthSys) at the University of Edinburgh and at BGI will work together on synthesizing chromosome VII as part of the International Synthetic Yeast Project (Sc2.0).

The Sc2.0 PROJECT, initiated by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, is the first synthetic eukaryotic genome project. The goal is to recreate the chromosome of yeast, a widely applied industrial microbe, so that it can be manipulated for useful purposes. The two parties will join forces to create an internationally competitive and innovative research team in the field of synthetic biology and work towards a breakthrough in the technology of artificially constructed yeast genome.

In the collaboration agreement, the two parties will work towards gaining strategic advantages in automated synthesis of genomes, meeting the demands for cultivating new synthetic biology industries. Synthesized chromosome VII genome’s success various functions will be developed to be widely used in the production of chemicals, energy and food to maintain and enhance human health and the environment.

Professor Peter Swain, Director of SynthSys says, “As in the UK, synthetic biology is a key area of investment for China and there is a substantial interest in collaboration and knowledge exchange that we are keen to participate in. We are thrilled to be working with the genomics giant BGI on such a landmark project in synthetic biology. ”

"Synthetic biology is a new emerging research field, which provides a unique opportunity for researchers to answer many fundamental questions in the life sciences.. When biological researchers are transitioning from the DNA sequence of an organism to a synthetic genome, researchers will face more challenges and opportunities with synthetic biology," stated Professor Huanming Yang, Chairman of BGI.

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