Designed to Order: Contemplating a Future where Synthetic Human Cells are Made on Demand


Designed to Order: Contemplating a Future where Synthetic Human Cells are Made on Demand

Ian Potter Auditorium
Kenneth Myer Building
30 Royal Parade, Parkville VIC 3052


Science has now progressed to a stage where we may soon be able to redesign our own biology. Through understanding the componentry within our cells, it may be possible to rewrite our biological blueprint and design cells with new functions, or even cells not seen in nature. With this knowledge, human stem cells could be harnessed to create cells and devices that are designed to sense, act and report on their environments. Such inventions might, for example, provide new ways to monitor our wellbeing, address future health challenges and allow us to study ourselves and our own biology at unprecedented resolution. The use of synthetic human cells have the disruptive potential to profoundly change our perceptions of technology and redefine what it means to be human. Discussions about the potential social and ethical implications of designer cell technology are imperative. Specifically, questions concerning if, how, when, to what or whom this technology should actually be applied need to be undertaken concurrently with scientific investigation and involve wide ranging community engagement and consultation. This timely workshop will bring together an interdisciplinary mix of scholars and stakeholders to consider the social goods that designer cell technologies aspire to achieve, lessons from other countries, and cross-disciplinary and governance practices and processes required to responsibly enable progress.


  • Professor Jane Calvert
    Professor Jane Calvert, Professor of Science and Technology Studies
  • Professor Christine Wells
    Professor Christine Wells, Professor of Stem Cell Systems and Director of the University of Melbourne Centre for Stem Cell Systems
  • Professor Jane Kaye
    Professor Jane Kaye, Director of the Centre for Law, Health and Emerging Technologies (HeLEX) at the University of Oxford
  • Associate Professor Claudia Vickers
    Associate Professor Claudia Vickers, Associate Professor Claudia Vickers specialises in synthetic biology to examine basic metabolic processes and build novel biological parts and devices
  • Professor Catherine Waldby
    Professor Catherine Waldby, Australian National University