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Introduce a Synthetic Biology and/or Biotechnology Module at Western

This petition had 203 supporters

What is Synthetic Biology?

Synthetic biology is a rapidly growing area of study, with private and public institutions around the world racing to advance the field as a science as well as an industry. Combining biology with principles from engineering, this interdisciplinary field involves the design of functional living systems. The implications of synthetic biology have already shown great leaps in agriculture, treatment/curing of disease, environmental solutions, production of biomaterials, data storage, synthetic organisms, and much more.

Synthetic biology is closely related to biotechnology—the use of living systems to produce useful products—and the two fields overlap in many respects.

For information about synthetic biology progress and initiatives in Ontario, take a look at this report from Ontario Genomics.


Synthetic Biology at Western

In contrast to many leading research universities, Western University currently offers very limited opportunities and course selection for undergraduate students wishing to pursue studies in synthetic biology. In order for Western to compete on the global stage with other post-secondary institutions and equip students with the skills and knowledge needed to make leaps in this incredible field, our school needs to invest in creating educational and experiential opportunities.

A recently established synthetic biology research program here at Western received nearly 150 applications within the span of only one week. Moreover, a number of faculty members between the Departments of Biology and Biochemistry have expressed interest in and support for this initiative. Other universities in Ontario, including Waterloo, McMaster and Guelph offer biotechnology programs, with courses dedicated for this field.

The aim of this petition is to highlight the demand from Western’s student body and community to invest in courses, programs and opportunities in the fields of synthetic biology and biotechnology.


WE, THE UNDERSIGNED, urge the Faculty of Science (and, by extension, Western University) to:

  • Offer a module and dedicated courses for synthetic biology and/or biotechnology in the Faculty of Science
  • Hire faculty members with experience in the field to lead the program
  • Invest in facilities and resources towards research and experiential learning opportunities in synthetic biology
  • Increase/provide opportunities for internships in synthetic biology
  • Allocate grant funds for initiatives and research projects in the area of synthetic biology

For questions or comments, or if you would like to make a personal endorsement for this initiative, please contact Samir at

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