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CSIRO Pioneering the Future of Biotechnology

Image Credits: CSIRO, Press Release

CSIRO, Australia’s leading scientific institution, has allocated AU$ 25 million until 2027 to establish an initiative known as Advanced Engineering Biology (AEB). This programme, part of CSIRO’s Future Science Platforms (FSP), focuses on leveraging the fundamental components of life to tackle complex and unsolvable challenges. AEB joins a suite of FSP projects dedicated to exploring and uncovering innovative scientific advancements in emerging fields.

The Director of CSIRO’s Advanced Engineering Biology (AEB) FSP emphasised the programme’s objective to merge engineering and biology to address a wide range of issues. These include environmental concerns, the transition to clean energy, ensuring food security, and enhancing human health.

He acknowledged that exploration into the vast potential of engineering biology has only just begun. The field is rapidly advancing, with much still to be discovered about the fundamental components of life and how they can be leveraged. The applications of engineering biology are diverse, encompassing improvements in carbon sequestration by plants, the production of sustainable alternatives to animal proteins, petroleum fuels, and harmful pesticides, as well as the development of biosensors capable of providing instant medical diagnoses.

The AEB programme will have a specific emphasis on advancing biomanufacturing capabilities and the development of underlying technologies that drive engineering biology. The aim is to enhance the speed, predictability, and performance of these processes.

Additionally, the programme will undertake comprehensive research to understand the expectations, attitudes, and perceptions of the public. This research will play a crucial role in ensuring the responsible and ethical development of biotechnology.

According to the Deputy Chief Scientist at CSIRO, Australia has the potential to become a global frontrunner in the rapidly growing biotechnology field. The Advanced Engineering Biology (AEB) FSP aims to unlock the transformative power of engineering biology, supporting the development of new industries, fostering circular economies, and delivering substantial societal and environmental benefits.

Over the next four years, the research conducted by the AEB FSP will intersect with other rapidly advancing fields, including machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI). This collaboration will enable synergistic advancements and enhance the overall impact of the programme’s research efforts.

About CSIRO’s Future Science Platform

CSIRO’s Future Science Platforms (FSPs) represent a strategic investment in scientific research that serves as the foundation for innovation. These initiatives possess the potential to revitalise existing industries and foster the creation of new sectors within Australia. By supporting the growth of a new generation of researchers, FSPs facilitate the attraction of top-tier students and experts who collaborate with CSIRO on future scientific endeavours.

The FSPs operate as multi-year and multi-disciplinary undertakings, uniting CSIRO, and its partners to tackle significant ideas and challenges. Since its establishment in 2017, the FSP Programme has seen several initiatives evolve over five to eight-year lifecycles.

Notably, four initial FSPs – Active Integrated Matter, Digiscape, Probing Biosystems, and Synthetic Biology – have reached maturity. The technologies and achievements stemming from these FSPs have been successfully transferred to both partners and CSIRO Business Units, fostering practical applications and commercialisation.

The Advanced Engineering Biology

Engineering biology holds immense transformative potential for Australia, but reaching its full benefits requires advancements in speed, affordability, and scalability. The Advanced Engineering Biology Future Science Platform (AEB FSP) is dedicated to catalysing a significant leap in biotechnology development within Australia, with a focus on ensuring broad societal advantages.

The research conducted by the AEB FSP aims to tackle the obstacles hindering the realisation of engineering biology’s potential in delivering benefits across society, the environment and industry. By addressing these challenges, the programme strives to unlock the full potential of engineering biology and drive positive outcomes for Australia and beyond.

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