Preprint / Version 1

Building a community to engineer synthetic cells and organelles from the bottom-up


  • Oskar Staufer
  • Jacqueline A. De Lora
  • Eleonora Bailoni
  • Alisina Bazrafshan
  • Amelie S. Benk
  • Kevin Jahnke
  • Zachary A. Manzer
  • Lado Otrin
  • Telmo Díez Pérez
  • Judee Sharon
  • Jan Steinkühler
  • Katarzyna P. Adamala
  • Bruna Jacobson
  • Marileen Dogterom
  • Kerstin Göpfrich
  • Darko Stefanovic
  • Susan R. Atlas
  • Michael Grunze
  • Matthew R. Lakin
  • Andrew P. Shreve
  • Joachim P. Spatz
  • Gabriel P. López



Bottom-up, Community building, SynCell, Synthetic biology


Empowered by emerging concepts from physics, chemistry, and bioengineering, learning-by-building approaches have found increasing application in the life sciences. Particularly, they are directed to tackle the overarching goal of engineering cellular life from scratch. The SynCell2020/21 conference brought together a diverse group of researchers to share progress and chart the course of this field. Participants identified key steps to design, manipulate, and create cell-like entities, especially those with hierarchical organization and function. This article highlights achievements in the field, including areas where synthetic cells are having socioeconomic and technological impact. Guided by input from early-career researchers, we identify challenges and opportunities for basic science and technological applications of synthetic cells. A key conclusion is the need to build an integrated research community through enhanced communication, resource-sharing, and educational initiatives. Development of an international and interdisciplinary community will enable transformative outcomes and attract the brightest minds to contribute to the field.


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