New research center is dedicated to engineering cells into living machines

The Golden State will soon house its own “blue-sky” bioengineering center thanks to a healthy grant from the National Science Foundation. Based at the University of California, San Francisco, the $24 million Center for Cellular Construction will be used to study and promote cellular engineering, a young discipline that aims create living machines by manipulating nature.To design these machines, researchers first have to comprehend the complexity of cells and uncover the mechanisms behind self-organization. Although cars, computers, and skyscrapers don’t assemble themselves, cells in fact do. If researchers can unlock the mechanisms behind self-assembly and modify them for specific functions, they may be able to develop sophisticated, living machines — ranging from environmentally responsive plants to intelligent medicines. Related: Bioengineered bacteria could be used to 3D print food and tools on Mars…


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