BRL Seminar Series Synthetic Biology or the Synthesis of Biology – who dares to dream?

3rd October 2018 @ 13:00 – 14:00 Europe/London Timezone
Bristol Robotics Laboratory
Frenchay Campus
Alison Wilmot
BRL Seminar Series Synthetic Biology or the Synthesis of Biology -  who dares to dream? @ Bristol Robotics Laboratory

SEMINAR 3 Oct 2018
We are pleased to host Prof. Andrew Burd
Hanson Robotics

Date: Wed, 3th of Oct 2018
Time: 13:00 – 14:00
Location: BRL Seminar Room

Title: Synthetic Biology or the Synthesis of Biology –  who dares to dream?
Speaker(s): Prof. Andrew Burd

Abstract: Synthetic biology emerged as a new discipline that harnessed the ability to re-write and modify the genetic coding of cells. This enabled scientists to “re-engineer” the cells and change their behaviour. Through this man-made process of redesign, the fundamental cellular biology could be altered or synthesized. Despite enormous promise, the original claims of life changing biological engineering have failed to deliver on the predicted scale. The reasons are multiple but a principle explanation, in generality, was the initial lack of appreciation of the complexity of biological systems that have evolved over millions of years. This has led to a different approach which is referred to as “bottom-up synthetic biology” where the biological processes are examined in intricate detail and then reverse engineered to create synthetic or semi-synthetic life forms. It is this field of pure or biohybrid synthetic biology that holds the greatest promise for incorporating biological design into human emulation robotics. The prospect is evolving further to look at a duality of purpose, creating constructs that may have a role in clinical medicine with completely biocompatible tissue replacements. At the same time these can become building blocks in the creation of human emulation robots which harness the millions of years of human evolution combining efficiency, reproducibility and sustainability. In this seminar I present two distinct but intimately related challenges for biological scientists and engineers – the creation of a modular, synthetic, biocompatible linear actuator that could be incorporated into human facial musculature and the creation of a myoelectric pan- facial prosthesis.

Speaker Bio: Andrew Burd graduated in Medicine from the University of Aberdeen in 1976. He is a British trained Plastic Surgeon and a Harvard trained scientist. He was awarded his MD degree for a thesis entitled “Towards scarless healing” based on the serendipitous observation that the human fetus does not scar when in utero surgery is performed in the second trimester of pregnancy. Following the novel application of tissue engineering in reconstructive surgery he relocated to Hong Kong where he became the Professor of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He continued his research in the fields of wound healing and scarring and his major clinical interest was rebuilding the faces of adults and children after burns and especially acid assaults. Following his retirement from clinical practice he was appointed the Centenary Professor of Regenerative Medicine and Translational Science at the West Bengal University of Health Sciences in Kolkata.  He has now embarked on a new career back in Hong Kong as a Consultant in Synthetic Biology to Hanson Robotics, one of the world’s leading Human Emulation Robotics companies. He is currently engaged in blue sky thinking and is looking for like minds to embrace tomorrow, today.

If you would like to attend please email