Realising the potential of synthetic biology for health

Responsible Research and Innovation

The engineering of mammalian systems will open up novel and potentially challenging questions for social scientific research and provide a unique opportunity to further the development of the concept of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI).

Edinburgh has an internationally leading group of social scientists specialising in synthetic biology who have collaborated with SynthSys researchers since 2008.  The Centre’s research programme in this area is called MIRROR for Research On Responsible Research and Innovation in Mammalian synthetic biology. 

We will build on the EPSRC’s AREA framework (Anticipate, Reflect, Engage and Act) for RRI to:

  • Enhance understanding of the concept of RRI;
  • Support its practical implementation in the engineering of mammalian systems;
  • Develop case studies of excellent implementation of RRI for use in teaching and to support research in synthetic biology.

Our work will take the concept of RRI in new directions to include: the politics of standardisation; the use of strategic mapping methodologies; and new approaches to engagement informed by speculative design (building on the EPSRC/NSF Synthetic Aesthetics project).

Key leads: Joyce Tait and Jane Calvert




Joyce Tait is working with the Synthetic Biology Leadership Council and its Governance Subgroup to develop an approach to RRI for the sector in the UK.