Today, I attended an interesting CBA talk on the MIT Registry of Standard Biological Parts. The basic premise is that molecular biology has elucidated enough about particular genes, proteins, promoters, etc. that we can start to make an inventory of these various “parts”. More than just a database, the Registry promotes the idea of reliable engineering with combinable components (think resistors and capacitors put together into larger circuits). This all sounds very ambitious and a bit idealized (especially if you’re a biologist) until you realize that they’ve actually done this already and built some neat, complex things (like a synchronized oscillator and a bullseye).
Though not directly related to neuroscience, this combination of biology and computation is very interesting. I encourage all of you to check out parts.mit.edu. It looks like they’re trying to make it as open source as possible, too.
For discussion: Is this the right approach to engineering with biology? What can be made more easily with biological substrates than with silicon?