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Learn synthetic biology with online courses and programs

Synthetic biology replicates systems found in nature to develop new building materials, biotechnology products, and other innovations. This interdisciplinary branch of science draws on engineering, biotechnology, chemistry, physics, and molecular biology.

What is synthetic biology?

At its core, synthetic biology is the application of engineering principles to biology to solve complex problems and address global challenges. By looking at living organisms like programmable machines, scientists can construct new biological parts, devices, and systems.

You may be familiar with activities like DNA manipulation and genetic engineering. These are just two of the many ways synthetic biology can lead to important advancements. Synthetic biologists also contribute to drug discovery, biofuel production, agriculture, environmental conservation, and so much more.

The synthetic biology field has vast potential to provide advanced tools and approaches to positively impact the environment and human health. With online courses on edX, you can build a strong educational foundation and work toward a rewarding career.

Synthetic Biology | Introduction Image

Synthetic biology course curriculum

Because synthetic biology combines various scientific disciplines, it can be helpful to build a foundation in core concepts that drive activities within the industry. Your curriculum may discuss topics such as:

  • Cell structure, genetics, and evolution

  • DNA, RNA, and protein synthesis

  • Inheritance gene regulation, and genetic variation

  • Microorganisms

These concepts can provide you with the knowledge you need to succeed in more advanced coursework. As you progress through your education, you can start learning about core concepts in synthetic biology, including:

  • DNA manipulation, restriction enzymes, and plasmid cloning

  • Gene synthesis and genetic construct assembly

  • CRISPR-Cas9 and its applications

Depending on your goals and interests, you may further pursue classes that cover metabolic engineering, systems biology, bioinformatics, or biological data. These classes can provide helpful laboratory experience and project work that can prepare you for a career in the field.

Start building the knowledge you need to work in the synthetic biology field with edX. From accelerated boot camps to comprehensive programs that allow you to earn a bachelor’s degree or (for more advanced learners) a master’s degree, there are many different learning formats available to fit your needs. You can also explore executive education programs specifically designed for busy professionals. Find the right course for you.

Explore synthetic biology jobs

Understanding synthetic biology can be helpful for professionals in many industries and settings. Whether you’re interested in a role in the applied sciences or prefer a financial position, knowledge of synthetic biology is beneficial in jobs like:

  • Biomedical engineer: Designs medical devices, tissue engineering technologies, and drug delivery systems that may involve synthetic biology components.Footnote 1

  • Pharmaceutical researcher: Contributes toward drug discovery and development, which may involve synthetic biology approaches.Footnote 2

  • Environmental scientist: May rely on applications of synthetic biology to address environmental challenges.Footnote 3

  • Venture capitalist: Uses their understanding of synthetic biology’s potential and risks when funding biotechnology projects and startups.Footnote 4

  • Food scientist: May incorporate synthetic biology for sustainable food production and quality improvement.Footnote 5

Each of these roles will have different education and skills requirements. For example, some employers may seek candidates with a degree in biology or engineering, depending on the role. Before deciding on a specific learning path, research the positions you hope to pursue and align your coursework with your career goals.

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