Chapter 10. Community Announcements


SynBioBeta is launching two new courses: “Introduction to Carbon Central Metabolism” and “Big Data for Synthetic Biology: An Introduction to Bioinformatics.” You can learn more about each course at These will all be taught in the Bay Area, California. If you would like to host these courses in your city, then please get in touch. A variety of course options can be customized for your organizational needs.

Introduction to Carbon Metabolism (April 17, 2014)
This course is an introduction to fundamental keys and concepts of central metabolism as relevant to synthetic biology and metabolic engineering. We begin by discussing metabolites as requirements for life to exist and give a birds-eye view of the major pathways cells use to fulfill those requirements. We discuss general thermodynamic principles in biological systems, microbial fermentation, and microbial respiration. We will analyze metabolic pathways on the basis of carbon use, ATP use, and redox balance. After learning these skills, we will identify advantages and disadvantages of possible synthetic biology routes to common household products and chemicals of the biotech industry.
Big Data for Synthetic Biology: An Introduction to Bioinformatics (April 24, 2014)
You will learn the basics of bioinformatics, a multidisciplinary field with specializations that include interpreting human genetics, developing new medicines, and uncovering the underlying mechanisms of cellular function. We will start with a general introduction to the field as a whole, and then dive in with a number of hands-on examples where you will assemble a miniature “reference” genome, evaluate a disease-causing genetic mutation, and assess the success of sample drug trial results. Through these examples, we will uncover the principles behind genome sequencing, interpretation of expression data (RNA-seq and arrays), and personalized medicine. Finally, we will cover introductory statistics (which will be required for interpreting data) and the potential ethical implications of applied bioengineering.


3-Day Intro to Synthetic Biology (April classes; schedule at
Never clone alone…join the class and build a color-generating microbe using the Genomikon system. Synthetic biology is the science of engineering living organisms as if they were biological machines. You’ll learn how to manipulate life using standardized genetic parts. These genetic sequences serve as building blocks in the fabrication of genetic “circuits,” previously unseen in nature. Among many applications, this rapidly maturing technology is currently being harnessed to cheaply create life-saving drugs, biofuels to reduce dependence on petroleum-based fuel sources, and biosensors to detect a wide variety of environmental pollutants and pathogens . As part of this very hands-on course, we’ll build a set of DNA "parts" into a plasmid using the Genomikon kit and load it into bacteria. We will also analyze pathways that enable engineered microorganisms to smell like bananas and respond to different genetic "instructions."

Berkeley Biolabs

We are launching many new courses! Join us at Courses being offered include:

Biomedical tech open hack nights (late April/early May)
Sponsored by the UC Berkeley Bioengineering team.
Building Biotechs (May)
An ongoing series with speakers from the industry who discuss leaving academia, funding their biotechs, and the process of building their biotechs (please feel free to see our previous speakers).
Playing with Plasmids and Open Biohack night (every Monday)
Every Monday night, come and play with plasmids. Learn how to use the tools of bioinformatics and wet biology to make molecular parts for the Golden Braid system and other molecular machines.
Bio art project: Tree of Knowledge (starting in May)
This Burning Man–funded bio art project involves making a glowing tree. Come and help us create an amazing project for the playa at Burning Man with an amazing global group of volunteers: a cross-team collaboration between artists, makers, academics, and builders from Harvard University, UC Berkeley, UCSF, Stanford, Creative Commons, the Open Design + Hardware Network at the Open Knowledge Foundation, Berkeley Biolabs, Counter Culture Labs, BioCurious, and the Open Tech Collaborative.

Biohackers in Residence

We are currently recruiting for our inaugural class of Biohackers in Residence, and we would love for you to apply. The program will provide free access to Berkeley Biolabs in exchange for supporting the lab with volunteer hours! The Hacker in Residence volunteers are trained in molbio techniques and are invited to be involved in BBL internal projects. If you are local to BBL and are interested, send us a brief biographical sketch and a description of your interests.

Companies Currently Incubating at Berkeley Biolabs

Beyond Berlin
Aaron Berliner and his team are building exciting bioremediation and therapeutic technologies.
Jayaranjan Anthonypillai and his team are creating a biomass processing company for waste and cultivated streams to create specialty chemicals, fuels, and consumer products.

More coming soon!