May 19, 2021

Kate Adamala (U of M) 1: Synthetic Cells: Building Life to Understand It

Posted by in categories: alien life, engineering, evolution, genetics


Dr. Kate Adamala describes what synthetic cells are and how they can teach us the fundamental principles of life.

Life on Earth evolved once — this means that all biological systems on our planet are rooted in the same fundamental framework. This framework is extremely complex and we have yet to fully understand the processes inside each living cell. One way of understanding complex systems is to break them down into simpler parts. This is the principle of engineering the synthetic cell: to use our current knowledge of biology for building a living cell with the least amount of parts and complexity. Synthetic cells can be used to teach us about the basic principles of life and evolution, and they hold promise for a range of applications including biomaterials and drug development. Dr. Kate Adamala narrates an introduction to this exciting field.

0:00 Introduction.
2:22 How do we build a synthetic cell?
7:12 How can we use synthetic cells?

Speaker Biography:
Dr. Kate Adamala is a synthetic biologist and a McKnight Land-Grant Assistant Professor in the Department of Genetics, Cell Biology and Development at the University of Minnesota. Her research interests include astrobiology, synthetic cell engineering and biocomputing. Adamala is a co-founder and steering group member of the international Build-a-Cell Initiative, which seeks to broaden the impact of synthetic cell engineering. Find more information on Adamala’s lab at:

Brittany Anderton (iBiology): Producer.
Eric Kornblum (iBiology): Videographer and Editor.
Kate Adamala (UMN): Graphics and Narration.

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