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How can we use synthetic biology to prepare for future pandemics?

When: June 18, 2020 Time: 4:00 pm

The outbreak of SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind COVID-19, was first recorded in Wuhan late last year and has since infected over 5.6 million people, halted the global economy and placed the world in lock down.

The outbreak of the novel virus came as little surprise to biologists worldwide – they happen all the time. However, many countries were woefully prepared to deal with SARS-CoV-2.

Synthetic biology, as a field, offers many approaches to help us prepare for pandemics: from workflows that can rapidly pivot to match the demand for diagnostic tests, aid vaccine and therapeutic development, to helping maintain food supply.

This begs the question, why were so many technologically-advanced countries still so unprepared?

Where can synthetic biology make the biggest impact in a pandemic and what can we learn from COVID-19?

And perhaps most importantly, what are the barriers preventing us from fully utilising this science in time for the next pandemic?

Join us in a global discussion on the capabilities of using synthetic biology for preparing for future pandemics, taking the lessons learnt from COVID-19 as an example.

What will this discussion cover?

  • Where can synthetic biology have the biggest impact in diagnostics, vaccine, and therapeutic development in response to an outbreak?
  • Learning points from COVID-19:
    Where the world went wrong – why did the contingency plans fail?
    How can we pivot for a quick response to the next pandemic?
    Where are the best places to invest for preparation?
    What can we do better next time?
  • What is preventing the scientific community from utilising synthetic biology to its full potential before the next pandemic?
    We cover the funding, education and regulatory challenges involved.

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Bettina Hamelin Bettina Hamelin, President and CEO, Ontario Genomics

Paul Freemont Paul Freemont, Professor, Imperial College London

Claudia Vickers Claudia Vickers, Associate Professor, Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology

Douglas Friedman Douglas Friedman, Executive Director, Engineering Biology Research Consortium

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