Columbia University Systems Biology Initiative

In this workshop series, students will learn the critical techniques used within synthetic biology, the theoretical basis of these techniques and synthetic biology as a whole, and key research developments at the forefront of synthetic biology. Synthetic biology is a broad field that encompasses the engineering of new biological mechanisms that currently do not exist or the redesigning of biological mechanisms for a synthetic purpose. We experienced a revolution with the discovery of engineering small molecules for applications such as therapeutic and material development, but now, with synthetic biology, we have something infinitely more powerful. We can now engineer entire organisms. The great potential and vast applications are already beginning to unfold in fields such as medicine, industry, and bioelectronics. Research includes engineering bacteria to produce cancer-specific oncogene treatment, creating a mosquito repellent made from harmless bacteria, utilizing bacteria to purify water that is polluted with heavy metals and generate electricity in the purification process, designing bacteriophages to combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and using CRISPR to make a cheap, accurate detection system for different kinds of infectious disease.The synthetic biology workshop for high school students this fall will take place in a virtual format. The workshop will begin with three lessons dedicated to an in-depth look at the fundamental biological processes important in synthetic biology. Students will then have the opportunity to delve deeper into the frontiers of synthetic biology research through specialty workshops centered around cutting-edge genetic engineering and synthetic biology technology. Students who choose to participate in the Fall semester workshop series will have the opportunity to enroll in our Fall 2023 workshop series as well which will focus on specialty topics of the student's choosing.This workshop is designed for both students with a solid biology background and students with a weaker biology background. The five-week progression will include both foundational lessons to teach students the fundamental techniques of synthetic biology and in-depth explorations of advanced synthetic biology research areas. Thus, both students with a strong biology background and students with weaker backgrounds will be able to learn and explore advanced ideas at the heart of synthetic biology.Lessons will be delivered live through the Systems Biology Initiative's Zoom account on Sundays from 1:00-3:00pm. Please note that to participate in the workshop series, students must make a free Zoom account.
The Fall 2023 application for this program can be accessed here: