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Synthetic Biology: Life’s Extraordinary New Worlds

Synthetic biology gives scientists the power to redesign nature and even create life. Learn how it works.
Synthetic Biology: Life’s Extraordinary New Worlds is rated 4.8 out of 5 by 6.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from excellent like tech org science dailly science new like nanotech but 2022 great courses visuals and graphics are excellent makes it much easier to learn ILLUSTRATIONS ARE GREAT
Date published: 2022-09-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A real pleasure. Dr Muldrow is an excellent presenter. Prerequisite: undergraduate science courses, especially biology and chemistry.
Date published: 2022-08-31
Rated 4 out of 5 by from just started to view Bought the transcript book first as I thought I couldn't afford the DVD but did later buy the digital video and saved with a coupon for each. If you watch the sales you can afford these new updates on the science or whatever you enjoy.
Date published: 2022-08-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Synthetic Biology Synthetic Biology is outstanding presentation of the new technology being used with DNA. It’s stunning and exciting to learn what is in store for us. The professor was the “best” in his presentation. Highly recommend this.
Date published: 2022-08-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great course from Great Courses This course is a marvelous introduction to synthetic biology. It is both informative and comprehensive. If you are interested in this emerging field of study, this is a great place to start.
Date published: 2022-08-18
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Overview

Taught by Professor Milton Muldrow Jr., of Wilmington University, this course is an introduction to synthetic biology, covering its uses in medicine, agriculture, environmental science, and other areas, while also looking ahead to truly science fiction-like applications to molecular computers, space travel, and the creation of alien life-forms. Dr. Muldrow also addresses the potential misuse of synthetic biology, which could have devastating consequences for humanity and the biosphere.

About

Milton Muldrow Jr.

Synthetic biology is offering new approaches to solve some of our most pressing problems. Each day, new discoveries give us hope for a better future.

INSTITUTION

Wilmington University

Milton Muldrow Jr. is the Director of Natural Sciences at Wilmington University. He is also an associate director of the NASA Delaware Space Grant Consortium, where he has received numerous grant awards to advance his research as well as that of students. He earned his PhD in Environmental Science and Policy at George Mason University. He worked at the National Science Foundation, and his research includes the public policy, conservation, and possible genetic engineering of coral reefs. He was named to Delaware Business Times’ top 40 under 40 list, has delivered TEDx talks, and owns a biotech and education business called Phantom Ecology.

By This Professor

Synthetic Biology: Life’s Extraordinary New Worlds
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Synthetic Biology: Life’s Extraordinary New Worlds

Trailer

SynBio Uses Life to Solve Problems

01: SynBio Uses Life to Solve Problems

Delve into the amazing world of synbio—synthetic biology—which uses the tools of molecular biology to manipulate life in a host of ways. Survey the wide range of current uses and the field’s almost limitless prospects for improving health, the economy, and the environment. Also consider synbio’s social, ethical, and political implications, with examples involving human embryonic engineering.

32 min
Reading DNA: SynBio’s First Tool

02: Reading DNA: SynBio’s First Tool

Synthetic biology starts with reading DNA—sequencing the molecule that codes genetic information. How is it done? Trace the rapidly evolving technology of DNA sequencing, which required 13 years and $3.5 billion to decode the entire human genome in the 1990s and early 2000s. Compare this effort with new methods capable of the same feat in a matter of hours at very little cost.

31 min
Writing DNA: Printing Synthetic Genes

03: Writing DNA: Printing Synthetic Genes

Now probe the technologies that can literally write DNA, assembling the pieces of life through “bottom-up” biology. Also called artificial DNA synthesis, this process allows genes to be tailor-made for tasks such as programming bacteria to produce insulin. First, inspect nature’s approach to building DNA. Then, examine traditional cloning methods along with the advanced techniques of synbio.

27 min
Editing DNA: CRISPR Supercharges SynBio

04: Editing DNA: CRISPR Supercharges SynBio

One of the most celebrated tools of synthetic biology goes by the name Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats, or CRISPR. Explore the basic biology of CRISPR, which, together with an associated enzyme called Cas9, can target and alter specific sequences of DNA. Heralding a revolution in medicine and other fields, CRISPR borders on the miraculous, but it is also ethically fraught.

33 min
DNA Computers: DNA to Store and Process Data

05: DNA Computers: DNA to Store and Process Data

Computer users face frequent updates that make older models obsolete and eventually unusable. The same goes for data storage, which degrades after a few years. By contrast, computers using DNA as the storage and processing medium could, in theory, offer a stable, super-compact system that would last for millions of years! Delve into this exciting prospect, highlighting progress and problems.

28 min
Directed Evolution: Let Nature Drive Discovery

06: Directed Evolution: Let Nature Drive Discovery

Nature knows a lot more about evolution than humans do, so why not let nature do the work in a greatly sped-up search for new biological molecules? That is the mission of directed evolution. Learn how scientists set a goal, design an experiment, and then steer a living process through multiple iterations. The 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry went to three researchers for their work in this endeavor.

29 min
Metabolic Engineering: Getting More Product

07: Metabolic Engineering: Getting More Product

Find out how synthetic biology came to the rescue in meeting the high demand for an antimalarial drug called artemisinin. The product of an Asian plant, artemisinin became the goal of an elaborate project in metabolic engineering—reconfiguring the metabolic pathways in ordinary cells to produce a molecule at industrial scale. Examine other cases in this increasingly routine technology.

28 min
The Overlapping Revolutions of SynBio and AI

08: The Overlapping Revolutions of SynBio and AI

A branch of artificial intelligence (AI) called machine learning can enhance the power of synthetic biology in ways scientists never dreamed possible. For example, AI has solved the challenge of protein folding, predicting the complex 3D structure of proteins in minutes when it formerly took years. Explore how this feat is achieved, and survey other applications in the marriage of AI and synbio.

30 min
SynBio Foods, Wearables, and Implantables

09: SynBio Foods, Wearables, and Implantables

Synthetic biology can touch anything that can be grown, raised, or produced with microorganisms. This lecture covers the revolution in food and materials, highlighting new ways to fix nitrogen in the soil, culture meat nearly identical to the real thing, and weave fabrics stronger than steel but as soft as silk. The results are more environmentally friendly than products made the traditional way.

27 min
Regenerative Medicine for a Better Life

10: Regenerative Medicine for a Better Life

Turn to the uses of synthetic biology in regenerative medicine—the restoration of human function impaired by disease or congenital conditions. Start by reviewing the impressive advances in medicine in the 20th century. Then investigate the change brought by synbio, with radical new treatments to repair hearing and vision, address aging and longevity, and transplant organs and tissues.

28 min
SynBio Therapies against Cancer

11: SynBio Therapies against Cancer

Study the convergence of several techniques already presented in the course with the goal of defeating cancer—treatments that are having remarkable success. Focus on CAR-T therapy, which stands for Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-cell therapy, designed to supercharge a patient’s immune system T cells to target tumors. Also, look at the use of synthetic viruses and bacteria to attack cancer cells.

31 min
Synthetic Virology and Faster Vaccines

12: Synthetic Virology and Faster Vaccines

Continue your study of viruses from the previous lecture by examining their broad role in human evolution, as well as disease. Focus on COVID-19 and HIV, and the challenges posed by each for synthetic biology. Cover the rapid response to COVID-19 by vaccine researchers, who scrambled to synthetize the virus using synbio techniques, paving the way for an assortment of vaccines.

30 min
SynBio Is Also a World of New Risks

13: SynBio Is Also a World of New Risks

Survey the risks of synbio, which in theory makes it possible to download the code for smallpox, Ebola, or other deadly viruses, and reengineer them to spark a pandemic. Malevolent experts could even create entirely new viruses, tailored to wipe out key life-forms. While still difficult to pull off, such dire plots will only get easier with time. Evaluate the safeguards that society can take.

32 min
SynBio for Eco-fuels and Pest Elimination

14: SynBio for Eco-fuels and Pest Elimination

Synbio can play a significant role in the fight to save Earth from continued degradation. See how metabolic engineering holds promise for lowering carbon dioxide output via the use of biofuels. Also, a genetic engineering mechanism called gene drives can eradicate invasive species and disease-carrying pests. Finally, synthetic biology can even rescue endangered ecosystems such as coral reefs.

31 min
De-extinction and Rescuing the Endangered

15: De-extinction and Rescuing the Endangered

Given our growing ability to build organisms using genetic blueprints, is true extinction a thing of the past? Probably not. On the other hand, synthetic biology is being used in research to create hybrid versions of the wooly mammoth, passenger pigeon, American chestnut, and other extinct species. Focusing on the passenger pigeon, review the steps needed to resurrect a vanished life-form.

30 min
SynBio for Survival in Outer Space?

16: SynBio for Survival in Outer Space?

The technology exists to send humans to Mars, however, keeping them alive during the multi-year roundtrip is another matter. Dig into the role that synthetic biology can play in this ultimate exploit. From the bone loss inherent in long-term weightlessness to the infertility of the Martian soil and lack of oxygen in the planet’s atmosphere, synbio can help turn a dream of science fiction into reality.

32 min
Xenobiology: Going beyond DNA

17: Xenobiology: Going beyond DNA

Continuing the idea of science fiction dreams becoming reality thanks to synbio, explore the prospect of a parallel biology that exists next to, but not compatible with, existing creatures on Earth. These would literally be alien life-forms, made from a different genetic architecture and presumably posing no danger to us. Evaluate current research on this mind-boggling idea and the reasons to pursue it.

28 min
Quantum Biology and the Future of SynBio

18: Quantum Biology and the Future of SynBio

Studies of biological processes such as the workings of enzymes, the sense of smell, the mystery of bird migration, and the astonishing efficiency of photosynthesis, give good reason to think that exotic quantum phenomena are involved. Quantum mechanics may, therefore, offer exciting new ways to manipulate life’s chemistry for our benefit. Could this be the future of synthetic biology? Stay tuned.

35 min