Speed debate on synthetic biology and neuro-ethics at UCL


This year, students at UCL are considering what they can do with genetic engineering to help counter Alzheimer’s disease. But this throws up a myriad of issues around what science can and should do around the brain. UCL’s synthetic biology student society invite you to discuss the ethical and practical issues of neuro-engineering – or disturbing the sanctity of the mind? – and genetic engineering – or messing with nature and genes?

Are these developments right? Should we pursue advancement in these fields? How far is too far? Come and have your say.

To kick off, expert speakers Howard Boland from c-lab and Shirley Nurock from Alzheimer’s Society will give a brief overview about the current controversies and issues revolving around these fields.

Then it’s over to you for the majority of the event: to engage in discussions in smaller groups and chew over the ideas given. Talk over a specific issue for a set time, and then move on to another. We look forward to seeing you! Register for the event here.

Speakers include:

  • Philipp Böing is current the president of Synthetic Biology Society in UCL. He takes a very active role in the synthetic biology arena. He will introduce and discuss his vision of synthetic biology.
  • Andy Cheng is a member of a selected team of undergraduates from UCL to compete in iGEM, an international genetic engineering competition between 200+ universities. He will discuss why the team decided to tackle Alzheimer’s Disease.
  • Howard Boland is co-founder and artistic director of C-LAB. His research focuses on the use of standardized genetic parts using the MIT-based biobricks library.
  • Alex Bates is also a member of UCL’s iGEM team. As a neuroscientist, he will give a scientific overview of how Alzheimer’s Disease effects and effects the mind.
  • Shirley Nurock is the Coordinator of the London Area Research Network. With her experience as a carer and researcher in Alzheimer’s Disease. She will target the practical and ethical issues of neuro-engineering and genetic engineering in on the brain.

The event is free, but please register online to help manage numbers.