By Shaharyar Lakhani
On August 23rd, 2019, many notable practitioners of synthetic biology from the University of Texas at Austin got together and shared their expertise with students, researchers, and administrators, all as a part of UT Synthetic Biology Day 2019. Lectures from professors at the University paired with an interactive poster session made the audience aware of the cutting edge developments happening in labs right here on campus. Amongst the many remarkable feats revealed by the synthetic biologists of UT-Austin, Dr. Hal Alper showed yeast that were so far (produced so much lipid) that they could float on water (http://www.che.utexas.edu/alper_group/); Edward Marcotte showed how bioinformatics could be used to convert a drug used to treat worms in elephants into a potent anti-cancer agent (www.marcottelab.org), and how the yeast genome could be progressively humanized into “Saccharomyces sapiens”; and Sean Leonard from the Barrick (http://barricklab.org) and Moran (http://web.biosci.utexas.edu/moran/) labs showed how engineering the bee microbiome could help prevent colony collapse. Furthermore, a panel discussion highlighted the contributions of industry, clinicians, and the security community towards the future of synthetic biology.