Innovating research, policy and education in synthetic and systems biology

Open Doors for synthetic biology

The autumn sunshine brought out the crowds to the University’s Doors Open Day with hundreds of people enjoying the amazing variety of science ongoing on their doorsteps in Edinburgh.

This year, we welcomed 250 visitors to the Roger Land Building on Saturday 28th September. There they enjoyed hands on arts and crafts activities to engineer their very own bugs with superpowers that could help to save the planet. Families enjoyed the challenge posed by Alessia Lepore of seeing what diversity of structure they could build with the same bioparts (aka Lego). We also had some large fluffy designer E. coli on display, which explained how synthetic biologists can redesign genetic networks with great accuracy.  

This year, other groups from across the School of Biology got involved with topics such as microscopy, immunology and malaria. Gorgeous glassware made by the Wellcome Centre for Cell Biology as also on display along with an opportunity to get your own science-based tattoo.

The University constructed the Roger Land Building in the 1960s to house the Animal Research Organisation. The architect, Sir Basil Spence, is renowned for his modernist design of Coventry Cathedral, destroyed during WWII.  The Roger Land Building then housed the Institute for Stem Cell Research before being renovated for the School of Biological Sciences and the hub for the UK Centre for Mammalian Synthetic Biology.

Doors Open Days is Scotland’s largest free festival that celebrates heritage and the built environment.  It offers free access to over a thousand venues across the country throughout September, every year. The aim of Doors Open Days is to ensure that Scotland’s built heritage, new and old, is made accessible to people living and visiting the country on weekends in September.  

It is coordinated nationally by the Scottish Civic Trust and is part of European Heritage Days along side Scottish Archaeology Month, coordinated by Archaeology Scotland (formerly known as the Council for Scottish Archaeology). Both are supported by Historic Environment Scotland.