Autodesk Inc., a Fortune 1000 company that develops software used globally to unlock creativity and solve broad challenges, is investing in genome engineering at the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Edinburgh. Autodesk is financing a three-year PhD stipend for Wei Liu, an international student in the lab of Dr Patrick Cai’s group, to conduct research in the area of synthetic biology and genome engineering. Wei will focus on developing novel DNA assembly methods to help construct the synthesis of the largest synthetic chromosome in the UK – yeast chromosome VII that is one million base pairs in length.
The funding continues support for Dr Cai who is also an Autodesk Distinguished Scholar and a Chancellor’s Fellow in the Centre for Synthetic and Systems Biology (SynthSys). SynthSys’ remit is to extend understanding of genetic and chemical regulation in biological systems and to use this understanding to solve the challenges facing industrial biotechnology, clinical medicine, and agriculture. Synthetic genome engineering is core to that vision and an area Dr Cai’s lab is exploring on an industrial scale.
Dr Cai comments: “Autodesk is a world leader in design software, and as synthetic biologists we see biology as a perfect venue for design tools to play an essential role. We look forward to learning from Autodesk’s general design expertise to develop new tools to facilitate genome engineering and the automation of biological design."
Carlos Olguin, Head of the Bio/Nano/Programmable Matter Group at Autodesk says: “Autodesk, and in particular the bio/nano/programmable matter group, is thrilled to see Dr Cai’s work become more central to the synthetic biology discourse in UK and beyond. An important aspect of synthetic biology is to be able to re-engineer the entire genome of an organism so that we can more predictably engineer in additional desirably functionality. We are excited about the ramifications of our ongoing collaboration with Dr. Cai on genome engineering and automation, including our studentship support, as they will result in helping more scientists and to-be-scientists explore and accelerate the field of synthetic biology.”
Everyone—from design professionals, engineers and architects to digital artists, students and hobbyists—uses Autodesk software to unlock their creativity. The Californian company’s products are used by more than 145 million consumers and 12 million businesses globally.