CSIRO launches synthetic biology fellowships

Friday, 10 February, 2017

Applications are now open for CSIRO’s Synthetic Biology Future Science Fellowships — a $3 million program to recruit outstanding national and international early-career scientists to expand Australia’s research capacity in synthetic biology.

The fellowships are an initiative of the Synthetic Biology Future Science Platform (SynBio FSP), announced last year as one of six ‘blue sky’ research concentrations led by CSIRO to help reinvent and create new industries for Australia. As explained by SynBio FSP Leader Dr Claudia Vickers, “Our mission is to develop capacity in synthetic biology within CSIRO and across Australia, in a collaborative and transparent manner.”

Synthetic biology is the design and construction of biological parts, devices and organisms, as well as the redesign of existing, natural biological systems. This emerging field has potential applications in areas as diverse as manufacturing, human health, agriculture and protecting ecosystems.

Indeed, Dr Vickers said the synthetic biology fellowships are an opportunity to build Australia’s global competitiveness in advanced industries, warning that a weak research ecosystem will cause us to lose competitiveness in almost every industry — including traditional areas such as agriculture.

The synthetic biology fellowships will be focused around three priority application domains: environment and biocontrol; chemicals and fibres; and endosymbionts and organelles. The program is particularly interested in scientists with novel applications who can bring third-party national or international partners.

“I expect these fellowships to attract among the best postdocs in Australia, as well as bring in overseas skills, and that they will provide the foundation for a collaborative community of practice in synthetic biology across Australia,” Dr Vickers said.

“The FSP will work closely with domain-specific researchers and technologists to design, fabricate and construct the novel, fit-for-purpose biological assemblies and machines that will deliver outcomes and impacts for the nation.”

Fellowship applications close on 27 March. For information on how to apply, visit https://research.csiro.au/synthetic-biology-fsp/synbio-fellowships/.

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