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Visions of Synthetic Biology

16.02.2018, Berlin | Life is what you make it – this is the motto of synthetic biology. In its most radical projections, biological systems are assembled and redesigned to perform completely different functions: organisms that are able to detect and neutralize toxins, effectively fight cancer, and replace oil-based production with bio-based production. On March 15, 2018, at 7 p.m., the Young Academy, the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, and the Schering Stiftung co-host an evening lecture in Berlin with Dr. Petra Schaper-Rinkel from the Austrian Institute of Technology in Vienna. The innovation researcher talks about developments in synthetic biology, how society can co-create these developments, and what that means politically and socially.

Petra Schaper-Rinkel

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The developments and applications of synthetic biology are still in the early stages; their future dominance and economic viability is speculation. However, the collective stories of the future of synthetic biology are neither an exaggeration nor a sideshow to scientific research and industrial application. In her lecture, Dr. Schaper-Rinkel will argue that the future development of synthetic biology will strongly depend on the active involvement of both public and private research, policy frameworks, and societal aspirations – as well as on who will design, develop, and use innovation in what ways. Stories, visions, and scenarios locate synthetic biology in the societal future and thus can advance the basis for the societal co-construction of this technology.

Dr. Petra Schaper-Rinkel is a political scientist who studies technological futures and the instruments that help shape the technologies of the future. Through EU research projects, she develops participatory processes, scenarios, and meta-narratives of the future and analyzes the practices of future-making and the political expectations regarding technologies of the future. At the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology in Vienna, she is in charge of technology assessment and foresight for the Austrian Parliament.

The evening lecture is preceded by a workshop (not open to the public) that aims to develop social challenges in synthetic biology via scenarios of the future. The results of the workshop can be discussed after the lecture.

Visions of Synthetic Biology - Why Technologies of the Future Need Imagination

Dr. Petra Schaper-Rinkel
AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH, Vienna

Thursday, March 15, 2018, 7:00 p.m. | Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities
Leibniz Hall
Markgrafenstr. 38 | 10117 Berlin

The event (in German) is open to the public.

Please register by e-mail no later than March 8, 2018, at: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

For more information, please contact the Schering Stiftung at: 030-20 62 29 60.


Founded in 2002 by Schering AG, Berlin, the independent and non-profit Ernst Schering Foundation aims to promote science and art ...