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J Biol Eng. 2007 Dec 27;1:8. doi: 10.1186/1754-1611-1-8.

Authentic teaching and learning through synthetic biology.

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MIT, Department of Biological Engineering, 77 Mass Ave, 16-325, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.


Synthetic biology is an emerging engineering discipline that, if successful, will allow well-characterized biological components to be predictably and reliably built into robust organisms that achieve specific functions. Fledgling efforts to design and implement a synthetic biology curriculum for undergraduate students have shown that the co-development of this emerging discipline and its future practitioners does not undermine learning. Rather it can serve as the lynchpin of a synthetic biology curriculum. Here I describe educational goals uniquely served by synthetic biology teaching, detail ongoing curricula development efforts at MIT, and specify particular aspects of the emerging field that must develop rapidly in order to best train the next generation of synthetic biologists.

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