Designed to Order: Contemplating a Future where Synthetic Human Cells are Made on Demand
Ian Potter Auditorium
Kenneth Myer Building
30 Royal Parade, Parkville VIC 3052
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Science has now progressed to a stage where we may soon be able to redesign our own biology. Through understanding the componentry within our cells, it may be possible to rewrite our biological blueprint and design cells with new functions, or even cells not seen in nature. With this knowledge, human stem cells could be harnessed to create cells and devices that are designed to sense, act and report on their environments. Such inventions might, for example, provide new ways to monitor our wellbeing, address future health challenges and allow us to study ourselves and our own biology at unprecedented resolution. The use of synthetic human cells have the disruptive potential to profoundly change our perceptions of technology and redefine what it means to be human. Discussions about the potential social and ethical implications of designer cell technology are imperative. Specifically, questions concerning if, how, when, to what or whom this technology should actually be applied need to be undertaken concurrently with scientific investigation and involve wide ranging community engagement and consultation. This timely workshop will bring together an interdisciplinary mix of scholars and stakeholders to consider the social goods that designer cell technologies aspire to achieve, lessons from other countries, and cross-disciplinary and governance practices and processes required to responsibly enable progress.