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Government funding for synthetic biology on the rise

June 08, 2010

WASHINGTON, DC -- A new analysis by the Synthetic Biology Project at the Woodrow Wilson Center found that the U.S. government has spent around $430 million on research related to synthetic biology since 2005, with the Department of Energy funding a majority of the research. By comparison, the analysis indicated that the European Union and three individual European countries - the Netherlands, United Kingdom, and Germany - had spent approximately $160 million during that same period.

Approximately 4 percent of the U.S. funding and 2 percent of the European funding was being spent to explore ethical, legal, and social implications of synthetic biology. The analysis uncovered no projects dedicated to risk assessment.

"We are releasing the analysis now with the hope that it will lead to further disclosures by government entities concerning the amount and focus of R&D funding in synthetic biology, and better research coordination," said David Rejeski, the Director of the Synthetic Biology Project. "As that data becomes available, we will update our analysis."

This report follows the announcement, on May 20th by the J.C. Venter Institute, of the creation of a bacterial cell that is controlled by a synthetic genome. "Though the private sector is active in this field, government investments in synthetic biology are large and increasing," said Dr. Todd Kuiken, who oversaw the analysis. "A large portion of the U.S. funding is dedicated to biofuels research."
-end-
The report and data tables can be accessed at: www.synbioproject.org

The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars of the Smithsonian Institution was established by Congress in 1968 and is headquartered in Washington, D.C. It is a nonpartisan institution, supported by public and private funds and engaged in the study of national and world affairs. The Center's Science and Technology Innovation Program brings new tools to bear on public policy challenges resulting from innovations in science and technology.

Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars/Science and Technology Innovation Program

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