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The University of Birmingham will form part of a consortium of universities investigating ways in which high-throughput DNA synthesis methodologies can be optimised, as part of a nationwide strategy to improve the capacity of DNA synthesis.  

The consortium will benefit from the award of a £2.2M grant from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), entitled 'Next Generation DNA Synthesis'.  

Ever larger pieces of DNA, such as genes and gene clusters, are required for synthetic biology, and making these can be a tedious and slows process. In this project the consortium will analyse DNA made by modern ultra-high throughput chemical methods and optimise the process. They will also explore new ways to make large pieces of DNA.

Professor Jim Tucker, Director of Research in the School of Chemistry and the Birmingham lead on the grant said, "This investment will allow state-of-the-art equipment to be installed in the School of Chemistry so that DNA constructs can be characterised and their properties analysed quickly and accurately. It will underpin and facilitate much of the cross-campus research that is currently being undertaken by our school in the areas of chemical and synthetic biology."

The announcement was made this week by Business Secretary Vince Cable in Manchester as part of a £40M investment in UK synthetic biology. It is part of the government’s drive to invest in synthetic biology as one of the 'Eight Great Technologies' in which the UK can be a world leader.

The £2.2m funding into synthetic biology will build capacity in DNA synthesis for the consortium,  which will see the Universities of Oxford, Liverpool, Bristol, Southampton, and Birmingham working together.

ENDS

To read the full press release from the BBSRC, visit: http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/news/policy/2015/150129-pr-business-secretary-40m-for-synbio.aspx