Ethical monitoring and reflecting of ongoing research, empirical analysis of public perceptions of synthetic biology, theoretical modelling and empirical analysis of concepts of synthetic life, developing a governance model

The specific responsibilities of the Dabrock group within the MaxSynBio consortium include the investigation and assessment of ethical, societal, and governmental challenges associated with ongoing scientific advances in synthetic biology. Insofar as new developments in SB are to be predictable, they will shape existing ethical debates as well as (probably) evoke novel or intensify current discussions. Therefore, the project will complete the following tasks:

Ongoing monitoring and self-critical reflecting of technological innovation an societal challenges

It monitors how scientific advances in synthetic biology have been framed by classical ethical considerations on this field of research, e.g. related to safety issues and security concerns, the blurring of traditional concepts of life and nature. Furthermore, the project reflects the methods, themes and outcomes of ethical and social dealings with synthetic biology.

Empirical analysisof public and scientific perceptions and evaluations of synthetic biology:

Based on several empirical investigations (media analysis, interview studies, focus group study) the project analyses images, interpretations and framings that are prevalent in the general public as well as in different research communities and thus guide perceptions and evaluations of synthetic biology, its aims and potential outcomes. 

Theoretical modelling and empirical ground work on different concepts of synthetic life: 

The aim of synthetic biology to conceptualise and finally construct novel biological systems consisting of newly modularised components, such as a synthetic cell, challenges traditional concepts of life and living. Therefore, the project combines a philosophical and theological in-depth analysis of concepts of life and living in dealing with these endeavours based on a theoretical modelling approach with empirical research on basic scientific concepts of (synthetic) life in order to strengthen the vision of working on something as a synthetic cell.

Public engagement with science: 

The project engages public with science by implementing an open communication platform based on regularly public workshops and conferences in order to allow a broader public understanding of as well as participation in synthetic biology.

Developing orientation markers for a model of responsible governance of research and innovation in the field of synthetic biology

Based on the activities and findings in the other tasks the project aims at developing modes for a governance approach of responsible of research and innovation within synthetic biology. 

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