Understanding how to
apply your discoveries to societal challenges


The general consensus is that the technologies enabled by synthetic
biology will have tremendous impact on the lives of Canadians and
communities around the world. But realizing this potential depends on our ability to
train the next generation of researchers to work in this area and to translate this knowledge into societal benefits.

Learn about the latest developments in synthetic biology

Synthetic biology is highly interdisciplinary and calls for expertise ranging from engineering control theory to fundamental molecular biology. Communication and a cross-disciplinary perspective are crucial. Biologists need to understand enough engineering or biochemical dynamics to understand what a colleague needs to measure to resolve their question about response rates, while mathematicians and theorists need to appreciate the vast complexity of biological systems enough to understand the limits of simplification and abstraction.

Broaden your skills and get trained in essential research techniques

The Synthetic Biology Innovation Cluster brings together the best and brightest Canadian and international graduate students, postdocs, and academics from the various areas that underpin synthetic biology to foster rich discussion about the central questions in the field. The objective is to break down silos and get everybody to learn how to communicate across disciplines.

What is the Synthetic Biology Innovation Cluster?


Founded at the Impact Centre in 2013, the Synthetic Biology Innovation Cluster is a collective network of scientific researchers and private sector industry leaders. Synthetic Biology Innovation Cluster (SynBio-IC) plays a key role in forming partnerships to innovate new solutions for markets worldwide— bringing together researchers, government agencies and industry partners to unlock the full potential of synthetic biology. The SynBio-IC recognizes the need for co-operation between researchers and industry leaders is essential in accelerating the translation of new knowledge into commercially viable and socially relevant products. In order to foster these partnerships, gatherings are based across Southern Ontario where these partnerships are formed and strengthened further, in order to continuously push the limits of synthetic biology.


What do we offer?

Through joining the Synthetic Biology Innovation Cluster, besides gaining a community of leaders in the field of Synthetic Biology, partners will also gain access to facilities and equipment for experiments or research.

Synthetic Biology Innovation Cluster

The Synthetic Biology Innovation Cluster seeks to connect academics conducting cutting-edge science with industry innovators to understand the issues and needs faced in the marketplace, and how to address them using resources we provide.

Connaught Summer Institutes

The Synthetic Biology Innovation Cluster is proud to be the organizing host of the Connaught Summer Institutes. The Connaught Summer Institutes are funded by the Connaught Fund which was founded in 1972, allows researchers at the University of Toronto to fund their furthering work. Funds focus on interdisciplinary work and innovation – with a strong emphasis on meeting challenges facing global society. The summer institutes are focused on learning about synthetic biology and fostering innovation. See more about the Connaught Summer Institutes by clicking the link under the Events tab.

Connect With Us

The Synthetic Biology Innovation Cluster brings together the best and brightest around Canada. We are always looking for more partners and ways to connect individuals across the large discipline of synthetic biology. See details on how to join the cluster and stay connected by clicking the Contact Us tab.

Cluster Contacts


David McMillen is a Professor in the Department of Chemical and Physical Sciences at the University of Toronto Mississauga. His research combines experimental and theoretical techniques to study the internal dynamics of cells. Professor McMillen is interested in the potential of synthetic biology to address real-world issues. Examples of applied projects include efforts at developing systems to: detect disease microorganisms and respond to counter them; create robust microorganism-based biosensors for blood assays; and engineer metabolic pathways for better production of useful biological products. Professor McMillen can be reached at: david.mcmillen@utoronto.ca
Stanley Wong joined the Impact Centre in 2013 as the lead staff scientist in the area of synthetic biology. He manages the Impact Centre’s Synthetic Biology Innovation Cluster where he helps facilitate academic-industry collaborations, communicate with relevant partners including governmental agencies, and writes grant proposals. Stanley received his BASc and PhD in biomedical engineering from the University of Toronto. His studies mainly focused on the development of protein based biosensor tools to help elucidate the inner workings of cells. Stanley has an interest in designing and developing technology and products by applying fundamental science and engineering principles. Stanley can be reached at: swong@imc.utoronto.ca

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