Many potential applications of synthetic and systems biology are relevant to the challenges associated with the detection, surveillance, and responses to emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases. On March 14 and 15, 2011, the Institute of Medicine's (IOM's) Forum on Microbial Threats convened a public workshop in Washington, DC, to explore the current state of the science of synthetic biology, including its dependency on systems biology; discussed the different approaches that scientists are taking to engineer, or reengineer, biological systems; and discussed how the tools and approaches of synthetic and systems biology were being applied to mitigate the risks associated with emerging infectious diseases.
The Science and Applications of Synthetic and Systems Biology is organized into sections as a topic-by-topic distillation of the presentations and discussions that took place at the workshop. Its purpose is to present information from relevant experience, to delineate a range of pivotal issues and their respective challenges, and to offer differing perspectives on the topic as discussed and described by the workshop participants. This report also includes a collection of individually authored papers and commentary.