BIOFAB - an Open Source Language for Programming Cells

Daniela Hernandez | WIRED | April 19, 2013

Drew Endy is the co-director of the International Open Facility Advancing Biotechnology — BIOFAB, for short — where he’s part of a team that’s developing a language that will use genetic data to actually program biological cells. That may seem like the stuff of science fiction, but the project is already underway, and the team intends to open source the language, so that other scientists can use it and modify it and perfect it.

The effort is part of a sweeping movement to grab hold of our genetic data and directly improve the way our bodies behave — a process known as bioengineering. With the Supreme Court exploring whether genes can be patented, the bioengineering world is at crossroads, but scientists like Endy continue to push this technology forward.

He believes this work is not only essential, but closer to reality than the world realizes. “Our entire civilization depends on biology. We need to figure out how to partner better with nature to make the things we need without destroying the environment,” Endy says.