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2016 - 2022

Synthetic Biology - M.Sc.

(Course code: BT 222, 3 credits)

Pawan K. Dhar, Binay Panda, Kashyap Dubey

School of Biotechnology, JNU, New Delhi 

2016 - 2022

Synthetic Biology - Pre PhD 

(Course code: BT 629, 3 credits)

Pawan K. Dhar, Binay Panda, Kashyap Dubey

School of Biotechnology, JNU, New Delhi 

Bioinformatics - M.Sc 3rd Sem 
(Course code: BT 216, 4 credits)
(Room 6, Wed, Thu 11:00 - 13:00)
Coordinators: Abhinav Grover, Pawan K. Dhar
School of Biotechnology, JNU, New Delhi 

Bioinformatics - M.Sc 1st Sem 
(Course code: BT 126, 2 credits)
(Room 6, Thu, 11:00 - 13:00)
Coordinators: Abhinav Grover, Pawan K. Dhar
School of Biotechnology, JNU, New Delhi 

2014 - 2015
Synthetic Biology - Pre PhD 
(course code: BIO 524, 4 credits) 
Coordinator: Pawan K. Dhar
Dept. of Life Sciences, Shiv Nadar University 


Synthetic Biology, M.Sc. 2nd Sem
(5 credits, course code: 040342209)
Coordinator: Pawan K. Dhar
SSBS, Symbiosis International University, Pune

DBT training program in SYNTHETIC BIOLOGY  

(2018-2020) Jointly organized by

  • Prof. Pawan K. Dhar, School of Biotechnology, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi

  • Prof. Bright Singh, National Centre for Aquatic Animal Health, Cochin University of Science and Technology, Cochin, Kerala

  • Prof. Joseph Selvin, Associate Professor & Head, Microbiology lab, Pondicherry University, Pudducherry


Offer practical skills, train students to think beyond and encourage social responsibility

  1. Paper degrees are getting increasingly redundant. Grades do not reflect hands-on skills in many cases. The key is to focus on practical skills that are usable in academia and industry. .

  2. Students have a better innate ability to take risks than guides. The key is to motivate them to think beyond. Our lectures are based on research publications. The purpose is to generate good unanswered questions in the class. We are not used to predicting and designing the future. This needs to change.

  3. Every innovation comes at some cost to the planet. We need all-inclusive and socially responsible innovations that improve quality of life, causing least damage to the environment and uses renewable natural resources.


Though the term ‘synthetic biology’ was proposed much earlier (Hobom 1980), the modern Synthetic biology approach finds root in two landmark papers in 2000 (Gardner et al 2000, Elowitz & Leibler 2000) that led to the realization of using an engineering approach in biology.


This was followed by formal introduction of the field to the global community four years later (First synthetic biology meeting at MIT, 2004) to signal rational and ground-up construction of biomolecular parts, devices and networks. The intended meaning of “synthetic” is ‘non-native’ or novel, not "chemical”, as sometimes incorrectly understood. The focus is on building inventory of standard parts, devices and circuits, design biological factories and manufacture products.

Questions raised by non-initiates often comprise the following: How is Synthetic biology different from traditional biotechnology? What is the use of new terminology? Does remix of tools and concepts from different fields qualify for a new discipline? Is synthetic biology an approach or an entirely new field ?

In my view, synthetic biology should be considered as a new approach that uses concepts from engineering and methods from molecular biology. Furthermore, design and manufacture of organisms from parts inventory, is new to the biological community.


A genome-wide data sheet of every part, device and circuit does not exist. The rules of composing an organism are unknown. Synthesizing genome based on computer aided models turns standards genetic engineering into genome engineering.

Introduction to logic gates, analog and digital systems, historical perspective of synthetic biology, biobricks, MIT Registry of standard Biological parts, gene truth table, dark genome, DNA origami, repressilator, bacterial camera, toggle switch, minimal synthetic cell, synthesizing genome, bioCAD platforms, iGEM, ethics, safety, applications. 
By completing this course, students understand:

  1. Why engineering concepts and approaches were used to biology to create a new discipline.

  2. Success stories, struggles and failures in the field

  3. Practical skills of relevance to the emerging needs of the community

  4. Emerging regulatory bottlenecks, ethical, safety and security issues


1. Robert H. Carlson.Biology Is Technology: The Promise, Peril, and New Business of Engineering Life.
2. Regenesis: How Synthetic Biology Will Reinvent Nature and Ourselves by George Church, Basic Books, First Edition, 2012
3. Designing Human Practices: An Experiment with Synthetic Biology by Paul Rabinow and Gaymon Bennett University Of Chicago Press, 2012 
4. Synthetic Biology - A Primer by Paul S. Freemont, Richard I. Kitney World Scientific Publishing; First edition, 2012

1. Drew Endy. Foundations for engineering biology. Nature 438, 449-453
2. Arkin, A.P., Synthetic cell biology. Curr Opin Biotechnol, 2001. 12(6): 638–644.
3. Dhar PK et al. Synthesizing non-natural parts from natural genomic template. J. Biol. Engg. 2009: 3, 2.

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