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Research Paper

Cell culture of taxus as a source of the antineoplastic drug taxol and related taxanes.

  • Arthur G. Fett-Neto
  • Frank DiCosmo

Biological Oxidation of Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) by a Methanotrophic Bacterium

  • Mary F. DeFlaun
  • Burt D. Ensley
  • Robert J. Steffan

Solubilization and Activity of Proteins in Compressible-Fluid Based Microemulsions

  • Guadalupe Ayala
  • Sanjay V. Kamat
  • Alan J. Russell

An Algorithmically Optimized Combinatorial Library Screened by Digital Imaging Spectroscopy

  • Ellen R. Goldman
  • Douglas C. Youvan

Hyperthermostable Variants of a Highly Thermostable Alpha-Amylase

  • Philippe Joyet
  • Nathalie Declerck
  • Claude Gaillardin

Fertile, Transgenic Oat Plants

  • David A. Somers
  • Howard W. Rines
  • William R. Bushnell

Comparison of Coat Protein-Mediated and Genetically-Derived Resistance in Cucumbers to Infection by Cucumber Mosaic Virus Under Field Conditions with Natural Challenge Inoculations by Vectors

  • Dennis Gonsalves
  • Jerry L. Slightom

Controlled Antibody Delivery Systems

  • Jill K. Sherwood
  • Richard B. Dause
  • W. Mark Saltzman

Rescuing Transgene Expression by Co-Integration

  • A. J. Clark
  • J. P. Simons

Trypanosoma Cruzi Flagellar Repetitive Antigen Expression by Recombinant Baculovirus: Towards an Improved Diagnostics Reagent for Chagas' Disease

  • Claudia N. Duarte dos Santos
  • Marco A. Krieger
  • Ricardo Galler

“Primatization” of Recombinant Antibodies for Immunotherapy of Human Diseases: A Macaque/Human Chimeric Antibody Against Human CD4

  • Roland Newman
  • James Alberts
  • Nabil Hanna

The Two Major Xylanases from Trichoderma Reesei : Characterization of Both Enzymes and Genes

  • Anneli Törrönen
  • Robert L. Mach
  • Christian P. Kubicek

Virus Resistant Papaya Plants Derived from Tissues Bombarded with the Coat Protein Gene of Papaya Ringspot Virus

  • Maureen M. M. Fitch
  • Richard M. Manshardt
  • John C. Sanford

Effect of Glycosylation on Properties of Soluble Interferon Gamma Receptors Produced in Prokaryotic and Eukaryotic Experession Systems

  • Michael Fountoulakis
  • Reiner Gentz

High Level Expression of Streptokinase in Escherichia Coli

  • M. P. Estrada
  • L. Hernandez

Baculovirus Expression of Alkaline Phosphatase as a Reporter Gene for Evaluation of Production, Glycosylation and Secretion

  • T. R. Davis
  • K. Munkenbeck Trotter

Characterization of RNA–Mediated Resistance to Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus in Transgenic Tobacco Plants

  • Peter de Haan
  • Jan J. L. Gielen
  • Rob Goldbach

Non–Neutralizing Monoclonal Antibodies Against RAS GTPase–Activating Protein: Production, Characterization and Use in an Enzyme Immunometric Assay

  • G. Y. Zhang
  • M. N. Thang

Construction, Bacterial Expression and Characterization of a Bifunctional Single–Chain Antibody–Phosphatase Fusion Protein Targeted to the Human ERBB–2 Receptor

  • Winfried Wels
  • Ina-Maria Harwerth
  • Nancy E. Hynes

High Level Expression of a Chimeric Anti–Ganglioside GD2 Antibody: Genomic Kappa Sequences Improve Expression in COS and CHO Cells

  • Lynette A. Fouser
  • Stephen L. Swanberg
  • Gerard E. Riedel

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Language: English | German


Ursula steiner.

Isny im Allgäu, Deutschland

Biotechnology derives from the Greek words – bios – life, technos – technology and logos – language, proof – that is biotechnology deals with the technical usage of living organisms for various purposes such as food, medicine, pharmaceuticals, recycling. Nowadays we deal with various colours or categories namely 10 introduced (red, blue, green, white, grey, yellow, brown, violet, dark and gold biotechnology) by Dr. Rita R. Colwell in 2003 and presented in this book. Other categories are also in use, the division into plant biotechnology, animal biotechnology, biotechnology of microorganisms and its colonies, cell culture biotechnologies, biotechnology of subcellular systems. The word ‘biotechnology’ was used for the first time by the director of the cattle utilization cooperative and Hungarian great land owner Karl Ereky and latter Hungarian Food minister. He published a book with the title: “Biotechnology of the meat, fat and milk production in agricultural large concerns for scientific sophisticated farmers” in 1919 in Berlin. His idea was to produce consumer goods with the use of living organisms called biotechnology. That was nothing new, but the word was new.

Vocabulary for the introduction to red biotechnology

Introduction to Red Biotechnology

So lets immerse in the world of biotechnology which is as colourful and fascinating as life itself.

Red biotechnology deals with biotechnological techniques such as gene therapy (replacing a defective gene causing diseases by a healthy gene), stem cell research (to fight off leukaemia), genetic engineering (changing the genetic makeup of genes to produce improved organisms) and the development of new drugs and vaccines i n medicine.

Another inventive application is tissue engineering . That means that cells are cultivated for tissue implantation. This leads to the production of artificial skin, cartilage and spinal disc replacement .

Furthermore red biotechnology finds also its application in the field of research about mutations and amplifications of genes to cure degenerative diseases such as Parkinson.

It is commonly known that certain drugs are not so effective for every patient because of its genetic disposition and metabolism. Therefore knowing the genetic disposition of a patient implies a better treatment by the analysis of the genes.

In conclusion red biotechnology means an immense progress in medicine which still has to be developed further.

By analysing some texts about red biotechnology pupils can gain a better inside.

Listen to the youtube video:

Introduction to red biotechnology and biopharmaceuticals

Note five keywords and explain them more closely.

Red Biotechnology (Tab. 1.2 )

Vocabulary for the text red biotechnology: Parkinson’s disease: vitamin B3 has a positive effect on nerve cells

Parkinson’s Disease: Vitamin B3 Has a Positive Effect on Nerve Cells

Parkinson’s disease is one of the most common neurodegenerative diseases in the world. There are around 4.3 million sufferers worldwide. It is characterised by motor impairments that result from the death of certain nerve cells in the brain. Therapies are not yet available. However, researchers at the University of Tübingen have now discovered that vitamin B3 has a positive effect on damaged nerve cells and can boost their energy metabolism. Vitamin B3 application will now be examined to determine whether it could be a new therapeutic approach for treating Parkinson’s.

Parkinson’s is the second most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer’s. The disease affects around two percent of people over 60 worldwide, and the numbers are rising. Between 250,000 and 280,000 people have the disease in Germany alone. Typical symptoms of this still incurable disease include motor impairments such as unsteady hands, stiff muscles and slow movements. The disease is caused by the loss of dopamine-containing nerve cells in a certain brain region called the black substance (substantia nigra). Little is yet known why these nerve cells die.

For many years, junior professor Dr. Dr. Michela Deleidi and her research group at the Hertie Institute for Clinical Brain Research and the University of Tübingen have been studying how Parkinson’s disease develops. “Some time ago, we came up with the idea that the disease is caused by damaged nerve cells with a dysfunctional energy metabolism, and hence damaged mitochondria,” explains Deleid1. “And indeed, in one of our studies, we found that the mitochondria in the affected nerve cells of Parkinson’s patients did not work properly. So we then decided to look for a way to repair and improve mitochondrial function.”

In search of a “mitochondrial rescue”, as Deleidi calls it, the researchers came across vitamin B3. “It has long been known that vitamin B3 plays a role in central metabolic processes, and some studies have shown that the vitamin plays a role in maintaining healthy mitochondria,” says the neurologist. “So it was natural for us to look at the vitamin and its potential role in the treatment of Parkinson’s.”

Vitamin B3 Can Save Nerve Cells

The scientists took skin cell samples from patients with Parkinson’s, 1.e. patients that carried a defect in the so-called GBA ∗ gene, in order to find out whether damaged mitochondria cause Parkinson’s disease. A mutation in this gene is one of the major risk factors for Parkinson’s disease. After removal, the cells were converted into stem cells using protocols that were developed specifically for this purpose. “All artificial nerve cells had a characteristic mutation in the GBA gene, which is the most frequent risk gene for Parkinson’s,” says Deleidi “And we were able to show that the mitochondria and energy metabolism of these cells were impaired.”

The scientists from Tübingen subsequently treated the damaged cells with a vitamin B3 variant. “And fortunately, we were able to eliminate most of the cells’ abnormalities,” said the junior professor. “In the flies that we were using as models of ageing, we even found that the sought after compound is a true anti-ageing product.” The researchers, who are part of an international research consortium, took flies of the genus Drosophila that had a defective GBA gene and hence problems moving around, and fed them the vitamin B3 variant to boost the formation of new mitochondria. “And there too, we were able to show that the vitamin considerably improved neuronal functions and behaviour,” says Deleid1.

Nicotinamide Riboside Improves Cellular Energy Production

The researchers did not use vitamin B3 – the nicotinamide – for the investigations, but a variant of the vitamin called nicotinamide riboside. The latter is the precursor of the coenzyme NAD (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide), which plays an important role in many metabolic processes involved cellular energy production. “We now know that the administration of the vitamin B3 variant nictoinamide riboside leads to the elevation of the intracellular NAD level and hence to considerable improvement of many biological processes, including microchondrial function and cellular energy generation,” said the researcher. “Our experiments suggest that the loss of mitochondria does indeed play a significant role in the development of Parkinson’s disease.”

Vitamin B3 – A Universal Anti-Ageing Product?

Administering nicotinamide riboside may be a new starting point for treating Parkinson’s. “At present, several clinical trials involving healthy volunteers and people with other mitochondrial diseases are underway.” “The goal is to find out how the vitamin B3 variant works”, says Deleid1. “While we are waiting for these results to be available we will continue characterising the substance and its metabolism in greater detail. Previous studies indicate that the vitamin B3 variant does not lead to serious adverse effects . However, the dosage will have to be very high because the drug needs to be taken orally. I am often asked by patients if they can start taking the substance. But I think that we need more results before giving the go-ahead for this.”

The researchers are already working with ChromaDex on the optimisation of nicotinamide riboside. ChromaDex is an American company that specialises in phytochemicals and has already supplied the Tübingen researchers with nicotinamide riboside for a recently completed study. “In addition to our previous findings, the study shows that our approach is not only specifically directed at the age-related degradation of metabolic processes in the human body, which includes Alzheimer’s, muscle loss and eye problems,” says Deleid1. And the sooner you can do something about this, the better. If the outcome of the clinical trials is positive, vitamin B3 would really have what it takes to become the new “anti-ageing pill”.

∗GBA = Genombezeichnung

General Questions

  • First of all write a summary of the text. Use your own words.
  • Nicotinamide riboside
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Mitochondria
  • Explain the causes of Parkinson’s disease!
  • Describe how the researchers found out that vitamin B3 has a positive effect on damaged nerve cells?
  • Outweigh the chances about curing Parkinson according to this research. Name two pros and two cons and draw a conclusion.
  • Complete the sentences:

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  • 7. Find the synonyms and antonyms:

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Complete the table:

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Make up a sentence with four words of the table:

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State the name of the tenses, give reasons why they were used:

  • Researchers at the University of Tübingen have now discovered that vitamin B 3 has a positive effect on damaged nerve cells.
  • For many years researchers have been studying how Parkinson’s disease develops.
  • While we are waiting for these results to be available we will continue characterising the substance and its metabolism in greater detail.

Find the words in English: the numbers of the letters form a new word:

E.g. removal:

Now it is your turn:

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Draw a Mindmap About

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See Figs. 1.1 and 1.2

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Tandem partner A

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Tandem partner B


Find the definitions for the following words or find the words for the definitions:

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Important Words in the Field of Red Biotechnology

Blue biotechnology, introduction to blue biotechnology.

Blue biotechnology deals with aquatic organisms. These organisms are used for pharmaceutical drugs, cosmetics or research. E.g. algae can be used for food, drugs and biofuels. Jellyfish can be used for research of neurons by exploiting their fluorescence. The government of Bill Clinton set a huge amount of money free to do research in this field as there is still a lot of unknown sealife in the ocean. Most of our world is covered with water. Without water there is no life.

Vocabulary: jellyfish – Qualle

Watch the YouTube video:

Marine biotechnology:

Name 5 marine organisms which appeared in the video.

General Text (Tab. 1.3 )

Vocabulary for the text Marine biotechnology: unknown sources of hope from depths of the sea

Unknown Sources of Hope from Depths of the Sea

Green, red, white and blue – the colours of biotechnology. Blue, 1.e. marine biotechnology, is one of the less known branches. Biotechnological methods are used to investigate marine life and the results obtained from these investigations advance research in the fields of medicine and energy and into substances used as food supplements and cosmetics. The area of marine biotechnology is fairly diverse. Although it is not on the coast, even the southern German state of Baden-Württemberg is involved in marine biotechnology.

The sea – the yrr∗ invented by German science fiction author Frank Schätzing live in it, Jules Verne’s protagonists travel 20,000 leagues under it and SpongeBob’s pineapple house sits on its bed. Only around one percent of the ocean has been studied, which is why a lot of myths, speculation and fairytales revolve around it. However, new terms like “drugstore from the bottom of the sea” or “marine pharmacy” have started to be bandied around . Marine microorganisms have had around three billion years more to develop than life on land. They have adapted to extreme environmental conditions in the sea – from the cold of the Antarctic ice to the hot, bubbling deep-sea volcanoes. This is where biotechnology comes in , or rather marine biotechnology, to be more exact. Marine biotechnology is the application of science and technology to marine organisms. Marine microbes, sponges and algae produce substances that have been found to be effective against cancer and AIDS, they are also likely to become important providers of energy, they are used to produce substances such as glass or to obtain important knowledge for the production of new washing detergents active at lower temperatures.

Some pharmaceutical substances isolated from marine organisms have already been placed on the market. Rather like tiny factories embedded in coral reefs, cyanobacteria, also known as blue algae, are among the most important producers of a broad range of different substances (more than 200), including bioactive with antitumour, antibiotic, anti-inflammatory and antiviral effect.

Yrr∗ – fictious, marine, unicellular jelly-like life form whose mission is to eliminate the human race by devasting the Earth’s oceans. The protagonist of the novel, Norwegian scientist Sigur Johanson, calls this life form “yrr”, a name he created by typing three letters at random on his keyboard (eds. note).

Biotechnological Research Involving Marine Organisms

Algae have the potential to be used in many different areas. They produce hydrogen, which will make them important sources of energy in the future; algae genes are transferred into soy and rapeseed , where they lead to the increased production of omega-3 fatty acids, essential fatty acids that cannot be synthesised by the human body, but are vital for normal metabolism. Researchers also focus on marine sponges, small sessile animals that have colonised the oceans for around 800 million years and developed an arsenal of mechanisms to defend themselves against predators . The substances, which scare predators off rather than killing them, contain toxic and pharmaceutically active substances which are now used in cancer research, in particular in leukaemia research.

Only a small fraction of biotechnological research – around one percent – involves marine organisms. Marine research is very expensive and the prospect of commericialising new discoveries is still a distant dream. The coastal states of Bremen and Schleswig-Holstein are leaders in the field of marine biotechnology in Germany. The Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Kiel – GEOMAR – investigates the chemical, physical, biological and geological processes of all marine habitats and is also active in the field of marine microbiology. “Many of our projects are focused on marine microorganisms from which we can isolate natural substances. We are also very much focused on turning our research results into marketable commodities ,” said Johanna Silber of GEOMAR, going to add that GEOMAR has already identified a number of marine microbial compounds that are used in cosmetics, antibiotics and even pesticides.

Sessile Organisms as Pharmaceutical Factories

Despite the fact that Baden-Württemberg is not on the coast, the marine life sciences branch is nevertheless represented here in the form of sponge and algae projects. Even a sponge species was discovered in Baden Württemberg: Tethya wilhelma was discovered and characterised by Franz Brümmer and Dr. Michael Nickel in the zoo “Wilhelma” (Stuttgart) around ten years ago. The small, white sponge is ball-shaped. But what differentiates it from all other sponge species is that it is able to move around.

Researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology are focused on marine sponges and algae. Using Aplysina aerophoba , also known as Gold-sponge, as a model organism, Christoph Syldatk and his team are studying the metabolite production of ex situ sponge cultures. They are particularly interested in improving the cultivation of sponges from a biotechnological point of view. Cultivating sponges with the aim of producing bioactive substances in relatively large quantities has always been very difficult.

Aplysina aerophoba is a common sponge in the Mediterranean. It is of great interest to researchers due to its ability to produce the pharmaceutically active substance aeroplysinin-1 as a natural metabolite. The brominated low-molecular metabolite has an antibacterial effect and also impairs the growth of tumor cells. Although aeroplysinin-1 is commercially available, it still needs to be extracted from sponges. Sponge-associated microorganisms have also been found to produce some of the bioactive natural substances that were previously thought to have been produced by the sponge.

Algal Bioreactors from Baden-Württemberg with Great Potential for the Future

The energy sector is another important area of application for marine biotechnology. When energy is scarce , people tend to clamour for new, efficient and environmentally friendly energy carriers. In addition, new energy sources must have an environmentally friendly CO2 balance and must not use land set aside for agriculture. Algae could be a way out of this situation. Algae are relatively versatile; they can be used as food supplements and to produce biodiesel, oil and bioethanol. In addition, algal bioreactors like the ones produced by Baden-Württemberg-based Subitec GmbH can be set up anywhere. Subitec optimises its bioreactors for the cultivation of marine and freshwater algae according to the specific requirements of its clients. Many products can be produced with algae, including substances used as food supplements or in the cosmetics industry. Dr. Peter Ripplinger, CEO of Busitec, also points out that raw materials such as carbohydrates and lipids could be produced with algae as energy producers.“ Future energy production will not be dominated by rapeseed; I firmly believe that the future production of energy from biomass will be based on algae”, said Ripplinger.

Algae bind CO2 as they grow. However, this CO2 is released when energy is produced. Algae can therefore be characterised as CO2 neutral. However, they can do even better than that: Prof. Clemen Posten and his team at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology are working on bioprocesses that enable them to cultivate the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii in a way that triggers it to produce environmentally-friendly hydrogen, both more cheaply and more energy efficiently than has been possible up until now.

Processing of Marine Waste in Europe

Marine waste can be further processed using biotechnological methods. Chitin, which is found in the shells of shellfish that are removed prior to being packed and sold – quantities of around 750,000 t of shells per year are removed in Europe – is already being converted into chitosan in Asia. Chitosan is still very much in its infancy in Europe. The shells of European shellfish contain too much chalk which renders the further processing of chitin into chitosan uneconomical. However, the “ChiBo” project, which is funded under the European 7th Framework Programme, is seeking to improve the situation.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB in Stuttgart is part of the project and is focused on the development of enzymes that degrade chitin into monomers. Dr. Antje Laber (GEOMAR) does not regard marine biotechnology as a different branch of traditional biotechnology. “We are working with the same methods, devices and principles as the other branches. The only difference is that we are working with algae. I imagine that the potential of new characteristics and potentials offered by marine substances will in future become an integral part of classical biotechnology,” Laber said. And what this means in concrete terms is that marine biotechnology can support and stimulate the other branches of biotechnology with its findings.

  • State at least two advantages and disadvantages of blue biotechnology. Draw a conclusion!
  • Explain the advantages of algae in comparison to other fuels.
  • pharmaceutical use
  • waste recycling

Complete your answers by doing research in the internet. State your sources! ∗

  • Find out five facts about GEOMAR!
  • Give a closer definition of chitin! ∗


Find five facts about these marine organisms in the field of biotechnology: ∗


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Find at least for three categories examples of marine life. ∗

Write three examples for each category!

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Find out which relationship they have with blue biotechnology. E.g. can they be used as pharmaceuticals for medical research or as biofuel?

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  • Make up a sample sentence with each.
  • Describe one biotechnological tool, biotechnological product or a biotechnological marine organism with at least 5 adjectives or 5 adverbs.

Scrambled words: Put the letters into the right order

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Matching Sentences Together

Put the sentences into the right order

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Complete the gap text

Many laymen _________________ conquering the sea because there is still so much unknown about _________________. However research can prove that ___________ have an _______________ effect. Algae have a versatile biotechnological use such as ______________________. Sponges are raised in _____ cultures to do research about their pharmaceutical ______________.

Sponges which are unable to move are called ___________ organisms.

Marine _________________ themselves can be used to ___________ waste in the sea.

Pictures of Marine Sealife

Create a sentence

See Figs. 1.3 and 1.4

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Tandempartner A

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Tandempartner B

Important Words in the Field of Blue Biotechnology

Green biotechnology (tab.  1.4 ).

Vocabulary for the introduction to green biotechnology

Introduction to Green Biotechnology

Green biotechnology mainly deals with the genetic modification of plants to make them more drought resistant or to strengthen certain characteristic traits to receive a better yield or to make them resistant to viral diseases. Furthermore it also stands for the development of biopesticides and biofertilizers to reduce the chemical impact of nitrogen on the environment.

Breeding hybrids is a further field of green biotechnology e.g. tomatoes are more long-living than normal tomatoes due to hybridization. Green biotechnology is the topic which is discussed about worldwide due to ethical and moral issues.

General Text (Tab.  1.5 )

Vocabulary for the text: with an eye on hunger, scientists promise in genetic tinkering of plants

With an Eye on Hunger, Scientists See Promise in Genetic Tinkering of Plants

URBANA, I11. – A decade ago, agricultural scientists at the University of Illinois suggested a bold approach to improve the food supply: tinker with photosynthesis, the chemical reaction powering nearly all life on Earth.

The idea was greeted skeptically in scientific circles and ignored by funding agencies. But one outfit with deep pockets, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, eventually paid attention, hoping the research might help alleviate global poverty.

Now, after several years of work funded by the foundation, the scientists are reporting a remarkable result.

Using genetic engineering techniques to alter photosynthesis, they increased the productivity of a test plant – tobacco – by as much as 20 %, they said Thursday in a study published by the journal Science. That is a huge number, given that plant breeders struggle to eke out gains of 1 or 2 % more conventional approaches.

The scientists have no interest in increasing the production of tobacco; their plan is to try the same alterations in food crops, and one of the leaders of the work believes production gains of 50 % or more may ultimately be achievable. If the prediction is borne out in further research – it could take a decade, if not longer, to know for sure – the result might be nothing less than a transformation of global agriculture.

The findings could also intensify the political struggle over genetic engineering of the food supply. Some groups oppose it, arguing that researchers are playing God by moving genes from one species to another. That argument has gained some traction with the public, in part because the benefits of gene-altered crops have so far been modest at best.

But gains of 40 or 50 % in food production would be an entirely different matter, potentially offering enormous benefits for the world’s poorest people, many of them farmers working small plots of land in the developing world.

“We’re here because we want to alleviate poverty,” said Katherine Kahn, the officer at the Gates Foundation overseeing the grant for the Illinois research. “What is it the farmers need, and how can we help them get there?”

One of the leaders of the research, Stephen P. Long, a crop scientist who holds appointments at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and at Lancaster University in England, emphasized in an interview that a long road lay ahead before any results from the work might reach farmers’ fields.

But Dr. Long is also convinced that genetic engineering could ultimately lead to what he called a “second Green Revolution” that would produce huge gains in food production, like the original Green Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s, which transferred advanced agricultural techniques to some developing countries and led to reductions in world hunger.

The research involvers photosynthesis, in which plants use carbon dioxide from the air and energy from sunlight to form new, energy-rich carbohydrates. These compounds are, in turn, the basic energy supply for almost all animal cells, including those of humans. The mathematical description of photosynthesis is sometimes billed as “the equation that powers the world.”

For a decade, Dr. Long had argued that photosnythesis was not actually very efficient. In the course of evolution, several experts said, Mother Nature had focused on the survival and reproduction of plants, not on putting out the maximum amount of seeds or fruits for humans to come along and pick.

Dr. Long thought crop yields might be improved by certain genetic changes. Other scientists doubted it would work, but with the Science paper, Dr. Lang and his collaborator – Krishan K. Niyogi who holds appointments at the University of California, Berkeley, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory – have gone a long way toward proving their point.

Much of the work at the University of Illinois was carried out by two young researchers from abroad who hold positions in Dr. Long’s laboratory, Johannes Kromdijk of the Netherlands and Katarzyna Glowacka of Poland.

No one plans to eat tobacco, of course, nor does the Gates Foundation have any interest in increasing the production of that health-damaging crop. But the researchers used it because tobacco is a particularly fast and easy plant in which to try new genetic alterations to see how well they work.

In a recent interview here, Dr. Kromdijk and Dr. Glowacka showed off tiny tobacco plants incorporating the genetic changes and described their aspirations.

“We hope it translates into food crops in the way we’ve shown in tobacco,” Dr. Kromodijk said. “Of course, you only know when you actually try it.”

In the initial work, the researchers transferred genes from a common laboratory plant, known as thale cress or mouse-ear cress, into strains of tobacco. The effect was not to introduce alien substances, but rather to increase the level of certain proteins that already existed in tobacco.

When plants receive direct sunlight, they are often getting more energy than they can use, and they activate a mechanism that helps them shed it as heat – while slowing carbohydrate production. The genetic changes the researchers introduced help the plant turn that mechanism off faster once the excessive sunlight ends, so that the machinery of photosynthesis can get back more quickly to maximal production of carbohydrates.

It is a bit like a factory worker taking a shorter coffee break before getting back to the assembly line . But the effect on the overall growth of the tobacco plants was surprisingly large.

When the scientists grew the newly created plants in fields at the University of Illinois, they achieved yield increases of 13.5 % in one strain, 19 % in a second and 20 % in a third, over normal tobacco plants grown for comparison.

Because the machinery of photosynthesis in many of the world’s food crops is identical to that of tobacco, theory suggests that a comparable manipulation of those crops should increase production. Work is planned to test that in crops that are especially important as dietary staples in Africa, like cowpeas , rice and cassava.

Two outside experts not involved in the research both used the word “exciting” to describe it. But they emphasized that the researchers had not yet proved that the food supply could be increased.

“How does it look in rice or corn or wheat or sugar beets?” said L. Val Giddings, a senior fellow at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation in Washington and a longtime advocate of gene-altered crops . “You’ve got to get into a handful of the important crops before you can show this is real and it’s going to have a huge impact. We are not there yet.”

Barry D. Bruce of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, who studies photosynthesis, pointed out that the genetic alteration might behave differently in crops where only parts of the plant, such as seeds or fruits, are harvested. In tobacco, by contrast, the entire aboveground plant is harvested – Dr. Bruce called it “a leafy green plant used for cigars!”

Dr. Bruce also noted that, now that the principle has been established, it might be possible to find plant varieties with the desired traits and introduce the changes into crops by conventional breeding, rather than by genetic engineering. Dr. Long and his group agreed this might be possible.

The genetic engineering approach, if it works, may well be used in commercial seeds produced by Western agricultural companies. One of them, Snygenta, has already signed a deal to get a first look at the results. But the Gates Foundation is determined to see the technology, assuming its early promise is borne out , make its way to African farmers at low cost.

The work is, in part, an effort to secure the food supply against the possible effects of future climate change. If rising global temperatures cut the production of food, human society could be destabilized, but more efficient crop plants could potentially make the food system more resilient , Dr. Long said.

“We’re in a year when commodity prices are very low, and people are saying the world doesn’t need more food,” Dr. Long said. “But if we don’t do this now, we may not have it when we really need it.”

  • Describe at least two advantages and disadvantages of green biotechnology!
  • Would you buy GM tomatoes? Give reasons for or against it!
  • Explain the process of photosynthesis!
  • Elucidate how they changed the process of photosynthesis!

Draw a conclusion!

Expressing Your Opinion

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Complete the table with useful phrases expressing your statement.

e.g. for agreement – I couldn’t agree more …

for disagreement – I completely disagree …

for objection – I see your point but your arguments are out of proportion …

for opinion – To my point of view …

Divide the class into four groups, discuss the following topics:

  • transgenic microbes
  • transgenic plants
  • gene therapy

One person moderates the discussion by asking questions. The others are divided into the pro group and the contra group.

Act out the discussion. Make sure that you talk freely.

Create a Word Snake

Find a word that has to do with green biotechnology. Restart with the last letter of the word with a new word that is related to green biotechnology.

E.g. alteresilient

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Form the questions for the following answers. Ask for the underlined words.

  • I haven’t seen him for ages .
  • He did his PhD in 2009.
  • Photosynthesis was not actually efficient .
  • Photosynthesis is often called “ the equation that powers the world .”
  • He gave the article to Bob .
  • This article is the work of James.
  • We are here because we want to alleviate poverty .
  • These compounds are the basic energy for all cells.
  • A long road lay ahead before any results could be presented.
  • He opposed the trial because of his experience.

Translate the Phrases from German into English

  • Ich denke der Autor möchte, dass der Leser …
  • Soweit mir bekannt ist …
  • Ich kann nicht verleugnen …
  • Es gibt mehrere Gründe für …
  • Nach meinem Standpunkt …
  • Wenn wir die Argumente näher betrachten …
  • Um es auf den Punkt zu bringen …
  • Ein gutes Beispiel für …
  • Dieses Beispiel veranschaulicht …
  • Es fällt mir schwer …

Apply Five Sentences Used from Sect.  1.3.6 to the Text

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Complete the Sentences

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Important Vocabulary for Green Biotechnology

White biotechnology.

White biotechnology deals with the use of biotechnological processes to produce food or drinks. For bread you need yeast, for wine you need fermentation. White biotechnology is nothing new but one of the ancient techniques of mankind. However the innovative aspect about white biotechnology is the fact that it is made more environmentally friendly. You use in your washing agents or washing powder enzymes that reduce the energy consumption. Since fossil fuels are running out, white biotechnology is becoming more and more important on an industrial scale.

The following text gives you an insight:

General Text (Tab.  1.6 )

Vocabulary for the text: white biotechnology

The application of biotechnology to industrial production holds many promises for sustainable development, but many products still have to pass the test of economic viability.

For tens of thousands of years, humans relied on nature to provide them with all the things they needed to make themselves more comfortable. They wove clothes and fabrics from wool, cotton or silk, dyed them with colours derived from plants and animals. Trees provided the material to build houses, furniture and fittings. But this all changed during the first half of the twentieth century, when organic chemistry developed methods to create many of these products from oil. Oil-derived synthetic polymers, coloured with artificial dyes, soon replaced natural fibres in clothes and fabrics. Plastics rapidly replaced wood and metals in many consumer items, buildings and furniture. However, biology might be about to take revenge on these synthetic, petroleum-based consumer goods. Stricter environmental regulations and the growing mass of non-degradable synthetics in landfills have made biodegradable products appealing again. Growing concerns about the dependence on imported oil, particularly in the USA, and the awareness that the world’s oil supplies are not limitless are additional factors prompting the chemical and biotechnology industries to explore nature’s richness in search of methods to replace petroleum-based synthetics.

An entire branch of biotechnology, known as, white biotechnology is devoted to this. It uses living cells – from yeast, molds, bacteria and plants – and enzymes to synthesize products that are easily degradable, require less energy and create less waste during their production. This is not a recent development: in fact, biotechnology has been contributing to industrial processes for some time. For decades, bacterial enzymes have been used widely in food manufacturing and as active ingredients in washing powders to reduce the amount of artificial surfactants . Transgenic Escherichia coli are used to produce human insulin in large-scale fermentation tanks. And the first rationally designed enzyme, used in detergents to break down fat, was introduced as early as 1988. The benefits of exploiting natural processes and products are manifold : they do not rely on fossil resources, are more energy efficient and their substrates and waste are biologically degradable, which all helps to decrease their environmental impact. Using alternative substrates and energy sources, white biotechnology is already bringing many innovations to the chemical, textile, food, packaging and health care industries. It is no surprise then that academics, industry and policy makers are increasingly interested in this new technology, its economy and its contributions to a sound environment, which could make it a credible method for sustainable development.

One of the first goals on white biotechnology’s agenda has been the production of biodegradable plastics. Over the past 20 years, these efforts have concentrated mainly on polyesters of 3-hydroxydacids (PHAs), which are naturally synthesized by a wide range of bacteria as an energy reserve and carbon source. These compounds have properties similar to synthetic thermoplastics and elastomers from propylene to rubber, but are completely and rapidly degraded by bacteria in soil or water. The most abundant PHA is poly(3-hydroxy-butyrate) (PHB), which bacteria synthesize from acetyl-CoA. Growing on glucose, the bacterium Ralstonia eutropha can amass up to 85 % of its dry weight in PHB, which makes this microorganism a miniature bioplastic factory.

A major limitation of the commercialization of such bacterial plastics has always been their cost, as they are 5–10 times more expensive to produce than petroleum-based polymers. Much effort has therefore gone into reducing production costs through the development of better bacterial strains , but recently a potentially friendly alternative emerged, namely the modification of plants to synthesize PHAs. A small amount of PHB was first produced in Arabidopsis thaliana after the introduction of R. eutropha genes encoding two enzymes that are essential for the conversion of acetyl-CoA to PHB (Poirier et al. 1992 ). Monsanto (St. Louis, MO, USA) then improved this process in 1999. Although this new wave of polymers has enormous potential, the timing of its evolution is uncertain. After initial enthusiasm, Monsanto and AstraZeneca (London, UK) abandoned these projects due to cost concerns. “Producing biopolymers from plants is a promising and fascinating scientific challenge,” said Yves Poirier from the Laboratory of Plant Biotechnology at the Institute of Ecology, University of Lausanne, Switzerland. He thinks that companies are reluctant to pursue these projects because they need long-term investments that do not meet the companies’ financial and time schedules. “Further genetic modifications still need to be introduced in the plants for their improvement,” he said, “and once these plants are created, they will require specific harvesting and treatment protocols, with respect to regular plants. All this translates into heavy investments in new infrastructures and processing systems and into a considerable amount of time.” Eight to ten years is his rough estimate of how long it will be before plant-produced PHAs might become economically viable.

Plans to manufacture a T-shirt from corn sugar have reached the same impasse . Dupont (Wilmington, DE, USA), the company that invented nylon, has for many years been developing a polymer based on 1,3-propanediol (PDO), with new levels of performance, resilience and softness. Adding an environmentally responsible dimension to the production, Dupont’s polymerization plant in Decatur, Illinois (USA) has now successfully manufactured PDO from corn sugar, a renewable resource.

But although their corn-based polymer, called Sorona R, is more environmentally friendly and has improved characteristics, it is again up to the markets to make it a success. “The company plans an effective shift from the petroleum-based production to the bio-based one,” said Ian Hudson, Sorona R Business Director at Dupont, “but this will happen if the economic process and market demands justify the transition.”

Cargil Dow (Minnetonka, MN, USA) has gone a step further. The company has developed an innovative biopolymer, NatureWorks TM , which can be used to manufacture items such as clothing, packaging and office furnishings. The polymer is derived from lactic acid, which is obtained from the fermentation of corn sugar. It has already been brought to the market effectively and has recently appeared in US grocery stores as a container for organic food.

Another product that could benefit greatly from innovative biotechnology is paper. Much of the cost and considerable pollution involved in the paper-making process is caused by ‘krafting’, a method for removing lignin from the wood substrate. Lignin is the second most abundant polymer in nature after cellulose and provides structural stability to plants. In view of the significant economic benefits that might be achieved, many research efforts went into reducing the amount of lignin or modifying lignin structure in trees, while preserving their growth and structural integrity. Genetically modified trees with these properties already exist (Hu et al. 1999 ; Chabannes et al. 2001 ; Li et al. 2003 ), but money will probably not be made from them anytime soon. Although the paper industry could make a considerable profit by reducing production costs, no large projects in this direction have yet been undertaken. Alain Boudet, Professor at the Centre for Vegetable Biotechnology at the University Paul Sabatier (Castanet-Tolosan, France), identified two major roadblocks for the commercialization of transgenic wood. “First of all, trees with altered lingin will need more tests on their actual field performance outside the laboratory before being widely used,” he explained. “Secondly, and with much more difficulty, it will be necessary to conquer the public’s acceptance to yet new transgenic organisms and to the distribution of products deriving from them.”

White biotechnology also concentrates on the production of energy from renewable resources and biomasses. Starch from corn, potatoes, sugar cane and wheat is already used to produce ethanol as substitute for gasoline – Henry Ford’s first car ran on ethanol. Today, some motor fuel sold in Brazil is pure ethanol derived from sugar cane, and the rest has 20 % ethanol content. In the USA, 10 % of all motor fuel sold is a mixture of 90 % petrol and 10 % ethanol. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s 2001 report on biotechnology and industrial sustainability, the USA now has 58 fuel plants, which produce almost 6 billion litres of ethanol per year.

But turning starch into ethanol is neither the most environmentally nor economically efficient method, as growing plants for ethanol production involves the use of herbicides , pesticides, fertilizers, irrigation and machinery. Companies such as Novzymes (Bagsward, Denmark), Genencor (Palo Alto, CA, USA) and Madygen (Redwood City, CA, USA) are therefore exploring avenues to derive ethanol specifically from celluloid material in wood, grasses and, more attractively, agricultural waste. Much of their effort is concentrated on developing more effective bacterial cellulases that can break down agricultural waste into simple sugars to create a more plentiful and cheaper raw substrate for the production of ethanol.

Hopeful visionaries have already started to talk about a ‘carbohydrate economy’ replacing the old ‘hydrocarbon economy’. However, “making biomass an effective feedstock is not a cheap process,” reminded Kirsten Staer, Director of Stakeholder Communications at Novozymes. To get the production of biofuel up and running on a commercial basis, alongside the development of new feedstock collection systems and the creation of special production plants, a different pricing of biofuel will be required, she commented. “The price structure for fossil fuel is fixed in the market by regulator y frameworks. If the biofuel production is to be successful, it will be necessary to enforce policies that introduce subsidies to bioethanol production, for instance, or put taxes on fossil fuel production,” Staer said.

This has not stopped J. Craig Venter from founding the Institute for Biological Energy Alternatives (IBEA) in Rockville, Maryland (USA) last year to advocate the production of cleaner forms of energy. IBEA recently received a US 53 million grant from the US Department of Energy, primarily to engineer an artificial microorganism to produce hydrogen. Deprived of the genes for sugar formation that normally use hydrogen ions, this organism could devote all of its energies to the production of excess hydrogen and, ideally, become a synthetic energy producer.

White biotechnology may also benefit medicine and agriculture. Vitamin B 2 (riboflavin), for instance, is widely used in animal feed, human food and cosmetics and has traditionally been manufactured in a six-step chemical process. At BASF (Ludwigshafen, Germany) more than 1000 tonnes of vitamin B2 are now produced per year in a single fermentation. Using the fungus Ahsbya gossypii as a biocatalyst, BASF achieved an overall reduction in cost and environmental impact of 40 %. Similarly, cephalexin, an antibiotic that is active against Gram-negative bacteria and is normally produced in a lengthy ten-step chemical synthesis, is now produced in a shorter fermentation-based process at DSM Life Sciences Products (Heerlen, The Netherlands). However, vitamin B2 is just a single success story – other vitamins and drugs are still cheaper to produce with classic organic chemistry than by innovative white biotechnology.

Nevertheless, the potential environmental benefits of shifting to biofeedstocks and bioprocesses are substantial, thinks Wolfgang Jenseit from the Institute for Applied Ecology (Freiburg, Germany). “The new bioproduction processes substitute complex chemistry reactions. This, of course, corresponds to significant energy and water savings” he explained. It also benefits the atmosphere: the carbon needed to make bioethanol from biomass was sequestered by plants from the atmosphere, so putting it back by burning ethanol does not add to global warming. Jenseit pointed out. This is certainly good news for the countries that committed to limiting greenhouse-gas emissions by ratifying the Kyoto treaty.

And the economic benefits are expected to follow. According to the global consultancy firm McKinsey & Company, white biotechnology will occupy up to 10–20 % of the entire chemical market in 2010, with annual growth rates of Euro 11–22 billion. Huge differences exist, however, in the ways white biotechnology is managed in Europe and the USA, says Jens Riese, a Frankfurt-based Principal Associate at McKinsey & Company. “First of all, the overall sum invested in the US in the white biotech business is 250 million USDollar, a sum which by far exceeds the total European investment”, he said. “Probably driven by a stronger geopolitical will of becoming independent from fossil fuel import, the US has shown a clearer propensity in the development of such technologies. Europe, on the other hand, is culturally more cautious and less adventurous in accepting innovative methodologies.”

But white biotechnology has drawn interest in Europe. “There is consciousness about the need for innovation in this direction,” said Oliver Wolf, Scientific Officer at the Institute for Prospective Technological Studies in Seville, Spain. “Although as yet no specific legislation exists, important steps are being taken towards the promotion of white biotechnology in Europe.” White biotechnology has potentially large benefits, both economically and environmentally for a wide range of applications. The way for its development is being paved, but it remains a relatively young technology that has to compete with a mature oil-based chemical industry that has had nearly a century to optimize its methods and production processes. Nevertheless, the growing concerns about the environment and the possibility of cheaper oil in the future make white biotechnology a serious contender.

  • Find a headline for each paragraph of the text.
  • State at least three innovations of white biotechnology, describe them more closely.
  • Clarify what problems go along with new white biotechnological inventions?
  • Exemplify the reasons for the environmentally-friendliness of white biotechnology.
  • Some adversaries say that biofuel is not environmentally-friendly. Give reasons for this statement.
  • Illustrate the success of white biotechnology. Find arguments for your statement.
  • Comment on the differences between the USA and Europe regarding white biotechnology.

Decide whether the following “-ing”-forms are participles or gerunds, give reasons and translate the sentence into German.

  • Growing concern on the dependence on imported oil makes white biotechnology attractive.
  • The awareness that oil supplies are not limitless are factors prompting the biotechnology industry to explore nature’s richness.
  • Biotechnology has been contributing to industrial processes for some time.
  • Bacterial enzymes have widely been used for the food manufacturing .
  • The benefits of exploiting natural processes are manifold.
  • Much effort has therefore gone into reducing production costs.
  • Producing biopolymers from plants is a scientific challenge.
  • The company having invented nylon has for many years been developing a polymer with new levels of performance, resilience and softness.
  • Many research efforts went into reducing the amount of lignin.
  • Trees with altered lignin will need more tests outside the laboratory before being widely used.

Find the Words

Ten words from the text are hidden. Can you find them all?

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Complete the Prefix Bio- with Ten Complete Words

E.g. bio-fuel

Match the Word

Can you categorize the words from Sect.  1.4.5 into a field of the colours of biotechnology?

Match the word to the ten categories of biotechnology.

  • E.g. biofuel belongs to the category of green biotechnology.
  • E.g. bioluminescent belongs to no category
  • E.g. bioactive belongs to all categories

Complete the Table

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Quiz About the Colours of Biotechnology

Repetition of the vocabulary of red, blue, green and white biotechnology:

Red biotechnology – Blue biotechnology – Green biotechnology – White biotechnology

Divide the class into two groups. The teacher names five German words in the four fields. The pupils have to translate them into English.

The most difficult word has 100 points. The less difficult one has 20 points.

The winner is who has most words right.

Important Words in the Field of White Biotechnology

Grey biotechnology (tab.  1.7 ).

Vocabulary for the introduction to grey biotechnology

Introduction to Grey Biotechnology

Grey biotechnology comprises all biotechnological procedures which are used for the preparation of drinking water, the purification of sewage , the restoration of contaminated grounds or the cleaning of exhaust gases . The procedure applied is mostly the fermentation that is the enzymatic transformation of organic substances. In other words grey biotechnology is concerned with the removal of pollutants and environmental biotechnology.

General Text

Grey biotechnology – a chance for efficient waste management.

Grey biotechnology is an environmentally friendly way to remove contaminants by using microorganisms such as fungi, protozoa, bacteria, algae and viruses from water or soil.

Around 140 million tonnes of synthetic polymers are produced each year. It takes centuries to decay them. The water pollution in seas and oceans is immense.

Therefore grey biotechnology is a real chance to treat contaminated soil, oil spillage and radioactive contamination.

Scientists have developed bacteria eating plastics (named Ideonella sakaiensis 201-F6).

Grey biotechnology is also used to protect indigenous fauna which is threatened by foreign plants called phytoremediation.

It is also used to remake former brownfields by enhancing bacterial degradation of contaminants and adding nutrients to the soil. This procedure is called bioremediation.

However it is not applicable for soil that contains cadmium or lead.

A simple application of grey biotechnology is your compost in the garden.

  • Give at least three applications of bioremediation.
  • Explain the advantage and disadvantage of bioremediation.
  • Find differences between white and grey biotechnology.

Shortened Relative Clauses

Match the sentences together by using an “–ing”- form:

  • Bioremediation is also applied to contaminated wastewater. It cleans the contaminated wastewater without aggressive chemicals.
  • Nutrients are added to the soil. It enhances degradation of contaminants.
  • Bioremediation is not a feasible strategy at sites with high concentrations of chemicals. These chemicals contain lead.
  • Bioremediation take advantage of the metabolic process. It can degrade concentration of different contaminants.
  • The process of bioremediation involves the introduction of new organisms. It enhances the degradation rate of indigenous fauna.

Explain the Following Words: ∗

  • phytoremediation

Draw an Advertisement for Bioremediation

Imagine you work for a company which main focus is bioremediation.

Draft an advertisement for their webpage.

What Is the Up-to-date Value of Bioremediation According to You?

How often is bioremediation applied? What is your estimation?

Complete the Gap Text

  • _______________ biotechnological purification chemical cleaning was used.
  • Water which is not clean is called ________________.
  • Toxic materials are also called ________________.
  • Not every biotechnological theory can be _________ in practice.
  • Legal authorities can ___________ the use of bioremediation.

Think About More Uses of Bioremediation than the Text States!

Important vocabulary in the field of grey biotechnology, yellow biotechnology.

Yellow biotechnology develops products for application in green, red and white biotechnology. E.g. it fights off pests on an environmentally friendly way by using peptides (green biotechnology) or it develops the inhibition of resistant antibiotics (red biotechnology). Furthermore it harnesses enzymes for the production of glutenfree food (white biotechnology). The name yellow derives from the substance hemolymph which is a substance similar to blood in insects and is yellow. Basically yellow biotechnology is concerned with food production.

General Text (Tab.  1.8 )

Vocabulary for the text: yellow biotechnology application on the food industry through in vitro cell culture meats

Yellow Biotechnology Application on the Food Industry Through In Vitro Cell Culture Meats

As mentioned in our previous article, the biotechnology industry can be broken down into color categories based on the techniques or products involved in that sector. For example, blue biotechnology includes practices utilizing ocean resources, whereas red biotechnology is related to pharmaceutical products or biomedical engineering. Yellow biotechnology involves the use of bio-engineering to make food. A classic example of yellow biotech’s adaption of natural resources for our palates is brewing beer – harnessing the natural yeast fermentation process to fuel college fraternities and connoisseurs alike.

A current hot topic within the food industry and culture and therefore yellow biotech, is sustainability. It is well known that the meat industry, in particular, has a drastic, and pervasive , effect on local and global environments. 1 This damaging effect results from resource diversion used to create farms, as well as the subsequent byproducts and run off from their existence. 2

Deforestation, clean water usage, and heavy feed requirements are necessary to raise the livestock, while antibiotics, pesticides, animal waste, and hormones directly pollute land and water to maintain them. The meat industry overall is responsible, for up to 24 % of greenhouse gas emissions, with no sign of slowing down. 3 Despite the implications for both human health and the environment, meat demand is increasing even as our natural resources are diminishing.

However, from great demand comes great potential. Within the yellow biotech sector, biologists and foodies are rising to the challenge. One exciting company, founded by Dr. Mark Post, uses in vitro cell culture techniques on adult cow stem cells to manufacture bovine muscle tissue – aka hamburger meat. The end result lowers land use by up to 99 %, water use by 96 %, and greenhouse gas emissions by 96 % when compared to other animal meat products. 4 Dr. Post conducted this research at Maastricht University, Netherlands, and live aired the first tasting of his “test tube meat” made up of over 20,000 hand-cultured muscle strands. In August 2013, taste testers noted the lack of fat or juiciness, but gave full points for the mouth feel and definitively preferred the in vitro meat to a vegetable-based substitute.

Since then, Dr. Post has taken his technology towards the market with his company MosaMeat. The cost of the first hamburger was a daunting Euro 250,000 (over USD 311,000). According to the company however, many of these costs were due to standard academic laboratory fees and the overall cost of operating at such a small scale. Ideally, this could be remedied by scaling up production and further refining their growth process. Considering the company plans to go global to help fill the hunger gap, achieving efficiencies of scale is very much a part of their long term plans. Still, the company has a few things to work out moving forward on the science end. The current culture system requires fetal bovine serum to grow the cells into functional supplement used daily in cell culture labs, for a company intent on using as minimal animal products with the smallest environmental impact possible, the question remains if a synthetic serum might be able to take its place.

Overall, MosaMeat and other in vitro meat companies show huge potential and have momentum on their side. With the current rate of research and initial progress shown, both environmentalists and animal lovers, as cheap, sustainable hamburger on the table, without the costs to the animals or environment.

To see where in vitro meat might take us in the future, check out this website for Bistro in vitro. While none of the menu is available as of today, they show there’s no limit to the possibilities that this new technology could bring – and that it may be closer to your menu you think.

  • Herrero M et al (2013) Biomass use, production, feed efficiencies, and greenhouse gas emissions from global livestock systems. Proc Natl Acad Sci 110:20888–20893
  • Scheer R, Moss D (2011) How does meat in the diet take an environmental toll? Sci Am 1.
  • Fiela N (2008) Meeting the demand: an estimation of potential future greenhouse gas emissions from meat production. Ecol Econ 67:412–419
  • Tuomisto HL, Ellis MJ, Haastrup P (2014) Environmental impacts of cultured meat: alternative production scenarios. Environ Sci Technol 14044:6117–6123
  • Explain the relationship between sustainability and yellow biotechnology!
  • Would you buy in vitro meat?
  • Evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of in vitro meat.
  • Do you think it is realistic in the future?
  • Find a headline for each paragraph!

Vocabulary for Commenting Texts

Translate the German sentences into English.

  • Ich muss dem Autor widersprechen …
  • Es ist fraglich …
  • Das ändert jedoch nichts daran …
  • Man könnte entgegnen, dass …
  • Wenn man das Für und Wider abwägt, komme ich zu der Schlussfolgerung …
  • Soweit ich es beurteilen kann…
  • Ich bin geteilter Meinung …
  • Lassen Sie mich ein Beispiel anführen …
  • Mein Eindruck von dem Text ist …
  • Zusammenfassend lässt sich sagen …

Use at least five phrases from 1 to 10 for drawing a conclusion about the text.

Linking Words

To comment texts linking words emphasize your versatility:

First translate the linking words:

Linking Words in Use

Use the following topics and make up a sentence with a linking word:

E.g. the analysis of the genetic make up of a person is thus useful for the treatment of Alzheimer.

  • Green biotechnology – crops
  • Blue biotechnology – research of jellyfish
  • White biotechnology – fermentation
  • Grey biotechnology – purification

See Figs. 1.5 and 1.6

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He gave me a book.

me = indirect object

book = direct object

He called me a fool.

Me = direct object

Fool = object complement

He was always a good student.

Good student = subject complement

Decide whether the bold words are a direct object, an indirect object, an object complement or a subject complement.

  • Meat industry has a drastic effect on local and global environment .
  • He called this in vitro meat challenging .
  • MosaMeat shows huge potential .
  • Foodies will be made curious .
  • They will give him more orders .

Proverbs with Colours

Translate the proverbs.

  • To be between the devil and the deep blue sea.
  • All that glitters is not gold.
  • She is green with envy.
  • That is still a grey area.
  • She was caught red-handed.
  • I tickled pink.
  • I told her a white lie because I didn’t want to hurt her.
  • She is yellow-bellied.
  • He blackmailed him.
  • I am always browned off when I see him.
  • He goes gathering orange blossoms.

Find other proverbs with colours by finding corresponding German proverbs in English.

Important Words in the Field of Yellow Biotechnology

Brown biotechnology.

Brown biotechnology is a very up to date topic as droughts are increasing due to climate change. On the basis of genetically modified plants brown biotechnology deals with the research of drought resistant plants.

General Text (Tab.  1.9 )

Vocabulary for the text: GMO crops could help stem famine and future global conflicts

GMO Crops Could Help Stem Famine and Future Global Conflicts

When most of us think about the threats posed by climate change, events like floods , droughts , intense storms and hotter temperatures come to mind. These are all, according to the vast majority of scientists, exactly what we can expect to see more and more of. However, what is often overlooked are the sociopolitical consequences of these climatic changes, in other words, we tend to view these natural disasters in a vacuum without recognizing the myriad ways in which climate change is both directly and indirectly shaping economies, cultures and governments.

This being the case, looking back at conflicts such as those in Syria and the Sudan, it has become increasingly clear that climate change played a role in triggering the instability that led to these conflicts. Which begs the question could these conflicts have been prevented through non-political measures that responded to changes in climate?

The answer increasingly seems to be yes. Further developments in biotechnology and a deeper understanding of what triggered the conflicts in Syria and Sudan point to novel prevention solutions grounded in modern agriculture. The arrival of genetically engineered (GE) drought-tolerant crops can withstand longer and more intense droughts could have the potential to prevent future conflicts.

Both the conflicts in Syria and the Sudan followed intense, climate change- induced drought periods that caused mass crop failures and famine. Beginning as early as 1998 and continuing into the 21st century, Syria and the surrounding region experienced a drought that, according to research published in the Journal of Geophysical Research, was the worst the region had experienced in 900 years.

The subsequent crop failure and famine eventually forced rural populations into urban centers to seek out food and better living conditions. The unfortunate result of this mass migration of people was the failure of Syrian cities to provide basic goods and services, leading to public unrest and eventually conditions ripe for civil war.

Had these farmers been better prepared to deal with years-long drought conditions, might Syria have avoided their civil war? The answer is not clear, as the conflict in Syria is complex and it is impossible to say whether it could have been prevented by any one action.

However, learning from Syria, we can assume that in the future, reducing the impacts of drought on particularly at risk populations through implementation of modern farming practices and the introduction of GE drought-tolerant crops could play a major role in preventing political instability.

Though there are few GE drought-tolerant crops on the market today, scientists all over the world are developing new crops in an effort to better prepare farmers for the increasingly severe droughts we expect to see.

Researchers at the University of Cape Town in South Africa are working to genetically engineer teff , an African grain important to many indigenous groups, in order to increase its ability to bounce back from water deprivation . The group intends to pull genes from a non-edible native plant, Myroflammus flabellifolius , which has the ability to enter dormancy during intense drought, but then bounce back in the event of rain. Small scale, public projects such as these that pinpoint specific crops in specific areas will be the key to combatting the effects of climate change.

Similarly, Xiaophang Yang at the Oakridge National Laboratory in Tennessee is attempting something more ambitious and wide reaching in this research on understanding how naturally drought-resistant plants use a different type of photosynthesis to endure the stressful conditions of drought. Yang’s goal is to map the genetics behind agave plants method of photosynthesis, which differs from most plants, with the hope of one day introducing those genes into common crops. Not only would this allow for crops to withstand drought conditions, it would also open up new areas for farming that were once too dry.

As the genetic engineering of crops rapidly expands in the public sector, using GMOs as a tool for mitigating the effects of climate change will become a more and more potent option, offering hope for feeding a growing global population and serving as a stabilizing force in drought ridden parts of the world.

Josh Winkler is a freelance journalist who focuses on genetic engineering, the Anthropocerne and the outdoors industry.

  • Do you think that droughts and floods can be a cause for war? Give reasons for your statement!
  • Go into detail about the consequences of droughts.
  • Make up your mind about fighting against droughts.
  • Do you think that GMO plants could contribute to fight against hunger? Give reasons for your statement!


Present in a group of four a country which is concerned with droughts (Sambia, Mosambique, Botswana, South Africa, India, Chile, South Asia).

Quiz About Droughts

  • A Course of temperature based on seasons
  • B Climate in Europe
  • C Climate on land
  • A Trees get brown leaves.
  • B Water gauge under the normal value.
  • C Too few precipitations during one year.
  • A The El-Niño phenomenon leads to floods in South America and droughts in Africa.
  • B The wind stream between America and Europe.
  • C The rise of water temperature in the oceans.
  • A a drought in a period of one year
  • B a drought within a decade
  • C a drought within twenty years
  • A a drought period in North America between 1930–38
  • B a windstream in Africa
  • C a tornado
  • A The water contents of tissue is kept up if water deficiency occurs.
  • B Plants that can store more water during droughts.
  • C Plants which are genetically modified.
  • A process which describes the liquid flow of a plant.
  • B value to measure the pressure in plants.
  • C pressure on the cell wall of a plant containing liquid.
  • A Plants that are breeded
  • B Plants that contain genes which are not originally from them
  • C Plants that have completely different colours than the natural ones
  • A are mostly flowers.
  • B cannot survive in hot climate.
  • C bind C0 2 better than normal plants.
  • A European Foundation for secure application of GM food
  • B European Foundation of standard approvals for GM food
  • C European Food Safety Authority

Active and Passive Sentences

Transfer the sentences either into the active or passive form.

  • Researchers at the University of Cape Town are working to genetically engineer teff.
  • What is often overlooked are the sociopolitical consequences of climatic change.
  • Yang’s goal is to map the genetics of agave plants.
  • The crop failure forced rural populations into urban centers.
  • The genetic engineering of crops is rapidly being expanded by the public sector.
  • Genetically modified organisms withstand drought conditions.
  • Natural disasters are shaping economies.
  • Scientists all over the world are developing new crops.
  • He followed the rules of the modification of plants.
  • Small scale projects will be the key for combatting droughts.

Find Words in the Text Which Have the Following Meaning

  • The fact that there is not enough to eat.
  • There is some food such as fly agaric which is poisonous and not possible to eat.
  • In Africa people who are natives and born in Africa are called a native group.
  • Due to droughts or floods there is no possibility to harness the crop.
  • Genetically modified crop is able to resist to droughts.

Make Up a Mind Map About Droughts

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Find the Synonyms and Antonyms of the Following Words

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Important Words in the Field of Brown Biotechnology

Violet biotechnology.

Ethics derives from Greek ‘ethos’ which means custom, habit, character or disposition. Ethics is a set of moral principles, which defines what is good for individuals and society. These principles are influenced by our culture and religion e.g. you must not steal. It comprises aspects such as how to live a good life, what are our rights and responsibilities and the language of right and wrong as well as moral decisions what is good or bad. There are different categories of ethics: metha-ethic concerns the origin of ethical principles. Normative ethics establishes a set of criteria what is right or wrong. Applied ethics is concerned with up to date topics such as children soldiers.

Violet biotechnology takes into consideration ethical and moral issues which occur by the modification of genes and thus leads to the problematic issues such as patent rights.

General Text (Tab. 1.10 )

Vocabulary for the text: thinking ethically about human biotechnology

Thinking Ethically About Human Biotechnology

Modern biotechnology, with its focus on molecular biology and its concern for increasing human health and life spans, is all about the future. This biotech future presses in daily, sparking imaginations. At the same time, it elicits wariness or even fear that humanity is gaining too much power or too little choice over human evolution and destiny. The political climate, permeated as it is by a ferocious “moral approach” to science policy, heightens this public concern. We seem to have lost our capacity for rational discourse in the public arena. The biotech industry has increasingly realized that not only regulatory schemes but also contentious public and political debate can either enable or constrain research and development. For better or worse, science is political.

We Can, but Must We?

Since the birth of Dolly the cloned sheep, public concern about advancing biotechnology has been enflamed by the suspicion that science is at the mercy of the technological imperative, the propensity to think that because something can be done, it is inevitable. This seemingly easy slide from can to will – because it is technically possible to clone a child into existence, it will become an everyday occurrence, for example – leaves some with a sense of fatedness , a sense that science is unstoppable. Hence, for those people, science is not a subject of ethical concern. In this view, at best, ethics takes a quietistic turn; at worse, it becomes completely irrelevant. A mantra of ‘if we can, we inevitably will’ places troubling limits on our critical thinking and moral imagination. We must recognize that the possible – however captivating , however daunting  – is not inevitable.

As human biotech research continues, scientist and layperson alike have the opportunity to deliberate about the ethical ramifications of the possible futures opened by scientific research. The science of ethics asks us to justify our actions and account for our intentions. It is not enough just to intend the good or to do something to bring it about. We must give good reasons why we do what we do. In the realm of biotechnology, our reasoning needs to address three main areas:

  • Incentives or the ways that we encourage scientists to do particular kinds of research
  • Intentions or the goals of that research
  • Actions or the potential applications of research results

When considering ethical reasons for our actions, it is prudent to avoid “the Dolly effect,” that is, attempting to slam the ethical door well after the sheep has scurried away . The unanticipated arrival of new biotechnologies – from cloning to xenotransplantation – leaves the public, and the scientific community, without a framework for considering the attendant ethical issues. As we quickly learned after Dolly’s birth announcement was published in the New York Times , paying close attention to the direction biotechnology is headed is infinitely better than potentially overreacting once it gets there. To avoid the Dolly effect, the biotech community must initiate ethical discussions within itself and with the wider public.

Questions Come First

To that end, it is well to begin with some questions. Ethics is about questions: about who asks, what they ask for and how we as individuals and communities respond. In reference to biotechnology, what questions should be posed? What aspects should be considered?

Along with the “golly wow” response to biotech innovation, we must ask, what are the personal and social impacts of biotechnology? What are its potential impacts on our values, our virtues, and our relationships? Does a particular application of biotechnology protect or endanger human or individual rights? Are the benefits and burdens distributed fairly? Does biotechnology advance or impede the common good? What are the risks, burdens and benefits? On whom do they fall? How are they distributed? What is an acceptable way to achieve a given benefit? May we do anything, as long as the outcome is good on balance? Or are there limits on what we do, even in the name of human health? And, what – or whom – have we not thought about?

The first step in answering any of those questions is quite difficult for people not well-versed in human biology and genetics: get the facts. Many disagreements result from not grasping the facts of the matter. It is impossible to make sound judgements about the appropriate uses of genetic testing, for example, without understanding some genetic science and the nature of the information gathered through such testing. It is incumbent upon scientists and others working in biotechnology to educate the public in general, and the media in particular, about the scientific method and experimental results. The trend toward releasing experimental results to the press before publication in a peer-reviewed journal, which is problematic in and of itself, at least requires scientifically savvy journalists whose duty is, in turn, to provide an adequate set of facts to the public.

Ethical Reasoning

Of course, facts only describe what is; ethics deals with what ought to be. How do we responsibly move from what is to what ought to be? It is the job of philosophical ethics to provide standards that help us identify what ought to be done.

Utilitarianism: one way to think about “the ought” is through the lens of utility, which looks at various options for action, asking who will be affected and to what extent each stakeholder will be benefited or harmed. In the utilitarian view, an ethical action is the one that produces the greatest balance of good over harm or the greatest good for the greatest number of people. Regarding research in human molecular genetics, for example, the utilitarian might argue that the potential benefit of relieving human suffering outweighs the possible dangers of manipulating human genes and evolution through germ-line intervention.

Rights: A different approach presumes that what makes human beings more than mere things is our ability to choose freely what type of lives to lead and the right to have our choices respected. This view from rights describes an ethical action as that which protects people from being used in ways that they do not choose. Importantly, each human has a right not to be treated as means to another’s end, even an undeniably good end. The right not to be used encompasses other rights: the right to be told the truth, the right to privacy and the right not to be harmed are among those particularly relevant to biotech research and genetic medicine. For example, respecting rights may set limits on human subject research in molecular genetics by requiring adequate informed consent including an honest assessment of risks and benefits, or it may require that experimental gene transfer therapy to be undertaken only as a last resort. In this view, actions that violate individual or human rights are wrong.

The justice approach to ethics is rooted in the principle of “treating equals equally and unequals unequally.” Justice mandates fairness in that people must be treated the same way unless they differ in ethically relevant ways. For example, when two runners cross the finish line at the same time. It is unfair to award the blue ribbon to Jeff and not to Jake unless, for example, Jake has cheated.

The primary form of justice in medicine and medical research is distributive justice, which is concerned with the fair distribution of benefits and burdens across society. Distributive justice, which is concerned with the fair distribution of benefits and burdens across society. Distributive justice seeks clarity regarding those aspects of individuals and society that may justify drawing distinctions in how benefits and burdens are allocated. That is, it seeks to identify under what conditions treating unequals unequally would be justified. Such material conditions could include distribution based on determinations of need, social worth, contribution, or effort. For example, the principle of need would support mechanisms for providing access to cutting-edge treatments to all who would tangibly benefit irrespective of their ability to pay for them. A principle of contribution might suggest that a family who sponsored research into an illness might have more influence on the direction of the research and greater access to its fruits than the rest of us.

The common good rests on a vision of society in which all people join in the pursuit of shared values and aims. Because individual good is inextricably woven into the good of the whole community, pursuing the common good includes creating a set of general conditions that are equally to everyone’s advantage. Together with respecting individual rights and freedoms, the common good approach requires that common goals, such as human health and well being, be pursued through biotech innovation and a stable health care infrastructure.

A consideration of virtue assumes that certain ideals allow for the full development of our humanity. A person who has inculcated these core ideals, or virtues, will do what is right when faced with an ethical choice. Virtues are dispositions that facilitate acting in ways that develop human potential and allow human flourishing. Virtues are good habits in that they are acquired through repetition and practice and, once acquired, they become characteristic of a person. Honesty, integrity, prudence, courage, wisdom and compassion are examples of virtues. Once a person has developed a virtuous character, his or her inclination is to act in ways consistent with ethical principles. In much the same way as Barry Bonds is inclined to hit home runs, the virtuous person will be inclined to tell the truth and act with compassion and courage.

Virtue ethics, with the emphasis on character and ideals, captures the idea of “the good scientist” – intelligent, honest, compassionate, determined – much more so than the principle-based approaches of utility, justice and rights. The development of pharmaceuticals for “compassionate use” echoes an ethics of virtue.

Reasoning into Biotech Practice

Those five approaches suggest that biotech ethics should ask five questions:

  • What benefits and what harms can be predicted for biotech innovations in both the research and application phases, and which courses of action will result in the best consequences overall? It is important to remember that determining consequences is more or less a guessing game. In instances of profound uncertainty and sizable risk, it is best to err on the side of caution when calculating benefits and risks. Neither hopes nor fears should be over-sold.
  • Who are the ethically relevant stakeholders, and what rights do they have? Which course of action protects those rights? Is human dignity respected? The consideration of specific individual and group rights requires coming to grips with the right to health care – a right that Americans claim but which remains unfulfilled for many.
  • Which option treats everyone the same unless there is an ethically justified reason to treat them differently? Biotech justice might hold up “need” as a criterion for access to innovative treatments.
  • Which course of action seeks the common good? Certainly, the recent SARS epidemic has heightened concern for the health of the whole and for the creation of common conditions that maximize individual and communal well being.

Putting It Together

This framework for ethics does not offer an easy or automatic solution to ethical dilemmas. That is not its goal. The frame work helps identify what ethics requires of us: to consider benefits and burdens, rights and justice, virtues and the common good. Each of these approaches gives us key information about ethical options in a given situation. In the end, each of us brings our moral judgement to bear in carefully considering the facts of the matter and what is right-making and wrong-making about our options for acting. When we do this reasoning together, through public discourse, we have a chance to develop a healthcare vision for our society. Such a vision would provide the necessary – and currently absent – criteria for determining which research trajectories to follow and which to ignore.

As we deliberate, we have a further obligation. Because biotech innovations may eventually involve germ-line manipulation, the actions we take today may effect every future generation of human beings, making the coming generations stakeholders in our ethical analysis. Consideration of transgenerational consequences may impose limits on what we do now in the interest of those who come after us. Minimally, we should not knowingly inflict harm. Many indigenous peoples speak of responsibilities that extend to the next seven generations. There is moral wisdom for us in that approach. As we approach cutting-edge issues in biotechnology, this very ancient moral wisdom can serve us well.


The general framework for ethical decision making on which this article is based was developed by Manual Velasquez, Claire Andre, Thomas Shanks, and Michael J. Meyer and initially published under the title “ Thinking Ethically: A Framework for Moral Decision Making” in Issues in Ethics, a publication of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics and available online at .

Margaret R. McLean, Ph.D. is the Director of Biotechnology and Health Care Ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University.

Jan 1, 2000 Bioethics Resources

  • Explain the meaning of “the Dolly effect”.
  • Do you agree with the statement of the author that science is political? Give reasons for yes or no.
  • The author mentions problems concerning ethical judgements. Go into detail.
  • Apply the three given points: incentives, intentions and actions to a research field. (An application is for example the research for vaccine).
  • Choose one question from page 81. E.g. What are the personal and social impacts of biotechnology? (An application is for example the research about inherited diseases).
  • Give reasons for non biotechnologists to find an ethical judgement and what does the author suggest what biotechnologists should do to make up the public think about it in a sophisticated way?
  • Exemplify the difference between utilitarianism and rights approach?

Further Research

Make up a presentation in up to five persons about:

  • What is a patent? What are intellectual property rights? Should genes be patented?
  • What are the up-to-date law rules concerning gene technology in Germany?
  • Do a presentation about the EFSA!

Apply the Vocabulary

Fill in the missing words:

  • If you sell more machines in a week, the company grants you ______________.
  • This issue is not clear. Cloning is still a very __________ topic.
  • If you write about biotechnology, only very __________ journalists should write about it because it is a very complex topic.
  • If you publish a scientific article, it is given before to a scientist who works in the same field in order to receive an objective judgement. So the article is _____________.
  • Sometimes in research, scientists discover _____________ results which they have never thought about before.
  • At the beginning it was difficult for him to start a new research project, but now he _______________________.
  • It takes a very long time to understand this problem, but now he has ____________ the issue.
  • Not only consumers are clients of companies, there are many more ________________.
  • The first picture of a black hole could ____________ its existence.
  • Cloning babies __________ a moral wariness.


Fill in the right prepositions:

  • Are moral values really an issue companies ask _________?
  • I can recommend _________ you this article.
  • Why are you always worried ________ him?
  • He met him _____ Monday _____ 8 o’clock _____ the evening.
  • This article was written ______ Mariam Moratti.
  • Watching TV late at night is the reason _____ his being late to work.
  • I met him first ______ university.
  • He is _____ the hairdresser’s.
  • He went _____ the street and then took the bus to reach the station.
  • ________ of the stair was a cat.

End and Beginning of a Word

You start with a sentence that has to do with violet biotechnology. Your neighbor has to continue with the end of the sentence.

E.g. Moral issues are important in biotechnology.

Biotechnology for me is a very exciting field of science.

Science has the duty to be universal.

Create an Ethical Valuable Webpage

Imagine you are the CEO of a biotechnological company producing pharmaceuticals. Write a standard list for ethical values which are valid in your company and published on your homepage. Write about 10 sentences.

Continue the Sentences

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Important Vocabulary in the Field of Violet Biotechnology

Dark biotechnology.

Dark biotechnology takes the fact into account that biotechnological research could be abused to create pandemics such as ebola.

Dark Biotechnology and the Laws

Often terrorists are blamed to use biotechnological weapons, e.g. spreading deadly pathogens.

But the point is that states all over the world produce biotechnological weapons although it is against the UN conventions.

In 2001 an anthrax attack was caused by a letter in the USA. Lateron it was proved that the stem of this deadly disease derived from an US laboratory of Dr. Bruce Ivins. It has never been proved how this pathogen escaped from this high-security laboratory.

Till today not much is known about dark biotechnology because it is also not wanted that too much is public about it.

Nowadays triggers for illnesses can be artificially produced in the laboratory to understand their mechanism that is to say that a virus can be created in the laboratory. On the one hand it is good for sciences, on the other hand this knowledge can be abused.

To keep these threats at bay the WHO published a guidance document called: “Responsible life sciences for global health security”. Normally sciences aim at improving the health of animals, plants and humans. The document of the WHO would like to inform states and researchers about possible risks including misuse of sciences research and accidents. It proposes measures to minimize risks such as public health surveillance, using ethical platforms, support ethics education and training, boost discussions, make people responsible for their research, train people about new legislation, prevent the access to pathogens in laboratories, implement biorisk management, the willingness of steady improvement and control, using self-assessment questionnaires.

Another guideline is the Biological Weapons Convention of 1972 which came into force in 1975. Every five years the states meet for a control conference. However, there is no treaty about concrete agreements about disarmament.

The convention consists of 15 articles which obligates the signed parties to use no weapons containing microorganisms or any other biological substances or toxins or to store or buy them. They have to destroy all weapons and are not allowed to give it to a third party. In 2018 182 states signed this convention but not every state ratified it.

  • Explain the meaning of ‘dual-dilemma’?
  • Find out five facts about the WHO!
  • Do you agree that bioterrorism is a real threat for society? Give reasons for or against it!
  • Suggest how to combat bioterrorism.
  • What is your statement about the WHO guidelines and the Biological Weapons Convention of 1972?
  • What means ‘to ratify’?

Divide the class into four groups. The groups should do a presentation about:

  • Responsible life sciences research for global health security
  • Biological and toxic weapon convention
  • Find out some bioweapons!
  • What can be done to avoid the use of bioweapons?

Find the right words in English. The number of the given letter forms a solution word.

  • Biologische Kriegsführung – _______________________ 1 st letter
  • Impfstoff – __________________ 5 th letter
  • Krankheitserreger – ____________ 5 th letter
  • fördern – _______________ 7 th letter
  • stärken – _______________ 8 th letter
  • strafbar – _____________ 6 th letter
  • Richtlinie – ________________ 3 rd letter
  • bedeutsam – ______________ 8 th letter
  • wissenschaftlich – ______________ 1 st letter

Solution word: ____________________________.

German Regulations

Write a summary about the article 314 criminal code (Strafgesetzbuch): intoxication which is dangerous to public safety (gemeingefährliche Vergiftung) in English:

Strafgesetzbuch (StGB)

§ 318 Beschädigung wichtiger Anlagen

  • Wer Wasserleitungen, Schleusen, Wehre, Deiche, Dämmer oder andere Wasserbauten oder Brücken, Fähren, Wege oder Schutzwehre oder den Bergwerksbetrieb dienende Vorrichtungen zur Wasserhaltung, zur Wetterführung oder zum Ein- und Ausfahren der Beschäftigten beschädigt oder zerstört und dadurch Leib oder Leben eines anderen Menschen gefährdet, wird mit Freiheitsstrafe von drei Monaten bis zu fünf Jahren bestraft.
  • Der Versuch ist strafbar.
  • Verursacht der Täter durch die Tat eine schwere Gesundheitsschädigung eines anderen Menschen oder eine Gesundheitsschädigung einer großen Zahl von Menschen, so ist auf Freiheitsstrafe von einem Jahr bis zu zehn Jahren zu erkennen.
  • Verursacht der Täter durch die Tat den Tode eines anderen Menschen, so ist die Strafe Freiheitsstrafe nicht unter drei Jahren.
  • In minder schweren Fällen des Absatzes 3 ist auf Freiheitsstrafe von sechs Monaten bis zu fünf Jahren in minder schweren Fällen des Absatzes 4 auf Freiheitsstrafe von einem Jahr bis zu zehn Jahren zu erkennen.
  • Die Gefahr fahrlässig verursacht oder
  • Fahrlässig handelt und die Gefahr fahrlässig verursacht.

wird mit Freiheitsstrafe bis zu drei Jahren oder mit Geldstrafe bestraft.

Describe Anthrax in Your Own Words

Find out five facts about anthrax. Use your own words.

Milzbrand oder Antrhax ist eine Infektionskrankheit, die durch Bacillus anthraxis , ein aerobes Stäbchenbakterium, ausgelöst wird. Meistens befällt sie planzenfressende Tiere. Menschen können nur infiziert werden, wenn Milzbrandsporen von Tieren auf den Menschen übertragen werden. Der Erreger ist hochgiftig und kann Jahrhunderte überleben. Deshalb ist der Milzbrand als Biowaffe hoch gefährlich. Es wird in Hautmilzbrand, Lungenmilzbrand und Darmmilzbrand unterschieden. Lungen- und Darmmilzbrand verlaufen häufig tödlich. Beim Tier ist Milzbrand eine anzeigepflichtige Tierseuche und beim Menschen eine meldepflichtige Krankheit. Seit 2003 gibt es einen zugelassenen Impfstoff in Deutschland. 1972 wurde eine Biowaffenkonvention von 143 Staaten unterschrieben, die die Entwicklung, Herstellung und Lagerung von biologischen Waffen verbietet. Dennoch experimentieren Länder mit Milzbrandbomben.

Find the Mistake and Correct It!

In each sentence is a mistake (grammar or spelling).

  • Reliable informations to find on this topic is very difficult.
  • The means to destroy ourselves are the other side of the medal.
  • Its synthesize was a breakthrough.
  • The researchers successful developed a vaccine.
  • He didn’t submit the results to the authorities.
  • This knowledge gets more and more important.
  • The result is as important as his ones.
  • This misuse is known to scientists since centuries.
  • Gen modification can also be misused.
  • He is a very carefully scientist.

Diseases Caused by Bioweapons

Find out which diseases are caused by bioweapons or which means are bioweapons or not, give reason for your statement! What are the triggers? ∗

Important Words in the Field of Dark Biotechnology

Gold biotechnology – bioinformatics.

Bioinformatics is the use of informatics for biotechnologists to process their data in a quick and understandable why. Statistics and mathematics support bioinformatics. Therefore good knowledge of informatics is an indispensable competence for biotechnological assistants. That is why biotechnological assistants work in a lot of interdisciplinary fields. Nanobiotechnology also comprises gold biotechnology. Nanobiotechnology deals with tiny organisms (10 −9m ) and materials used for the industry. Biotechnological assistants use large databases to gain further knowledge.

General Text (Tab.  1.11 )

Vocabulary for the text: Seasonal Genes

Seasonal Genes

This story was originally published by ‘The Scientist’ on May 12, 2015

Author: AP Taylor

Gene expression varies not only during the day but also throughout the year, a study shows.

Gene expression in human immune cells varies by season according to a study published today (May 12) in Nature Communications – the first of its kind to examine patterns in gene-expression variation throughout the year.

The results indicate “sort of a molecular signature of the season to humans,” said Ghislain Breton, who studies circadian rhythm at the University of Texas at Houston, but was not involved in the work.

In immune cells of the blood the expression of genes that promote information tends to rise in the winter and dip in the summer, the team led by investigators at the University of Cambridge – found. The researchers hypothesized that these and other seasonal gene expression pattern may help explain the seasonality of diseases, from infectious maladies like the flu to chronic conditions such as heart disease.

“We now know that all immune cell types have their own circadian clocks, as it is the case for virtually all other organs and cell types in the body,” Nicolas Cermakian, who studies circadian rhythm at Douglas Mental Health University Institute and McGill University in Montreal, Canada, told The Scientist in an e-mail. “Moreover, the immune responses, controlled by the circadian clocks, vary according to the time of day,” added Cermakian, who was not involved in the work. “What the new study…tells us is that timing information must be taken into account, when assessine gene expression and immune-related information, not only in the daily time scale, but also according to the time of year.”

Cambridge’s Xaquin Castro Dopico, who earned his PhD in the lab of John Todd, was inspired to imitate this analysis after reading how expression of a repressor of inflammation in mice, ARNTL., varies throughout the day. At the time, the Todd lab was also collaborating with researchers in Germany on an ongoing study, called BABYDIET, examining the effects of a gluten-free diet during the first year of life on children’s development and risk of Type 1 diabetes. BABYDIET requires regular collection of blood from participants over many years. So Castro Dopico used the data to ask “a different question,” Todd recalled. “He said, I’ll take this unique clinical dataset that we’ve generated and I’ll ask the question: ‘Does gene expression change not within a day but across the seasons?’”

The team began by examining ARNTL expression in the BABYDIET cohort, finding that it had a strong seasonality, with levels rising in the summer and dropping in the winter. The researchers also looked at other clock genes and found that many of them (nine of 16) showed seasonal expression patterns.

The researchers looked beyond clock genes, too. From the BABYDIET dataset, they found that 23 % of all genes examined varied with the seasons.

Grouping the seasonal genes from the BABYDIET cohort into categories, the researchers found that overall, pro-inflammatory gene expression rose in the winter and fell in the summer, following the same general expression pattern as ARNTL.

Next, the researchers turned to publicly available data from two additional studies, on diabetes and asthma, the latter a multi-center study involving participants of summer and winter gene expression observed in the BABYDIET cohort were reversed in the dataset from an Australian asthmatic cohort, indicating that the seasonal trends were consistent even across hemispheres. In an asthmatic cohort from Iceland, which undergoes periods of 24-hour sunlight, seasonal patterns were irregular.

Using genetic markers of each cell type, the team found that levels of individual blood cell types in the BABYDIET cohort seemed to vary by season. Examining the composition of blood donated to Cambridge Bioresource for research throughout the year confirmed that the makeup did vary seasonally.

In a population from The Bambia, a Western African country just north of the equator, the researchers examined patterns of cellular blood composition using data gathered through the Keneba Biobank, finding that the blood’s cellular makeup was tied to the rainy season. The researchers hypothesized that these seasonal changes in the cellular composition of blood are the major drivers of the seasonal variation in gene expression.

Studying gene expression in biopsies of adipose tissue from an independent twin study also revealed seasonal gene-expression variation, extending this seasonal variation trend beyond blood and immune cells.

An outstanding question is whether expression levels of pro-inflammatory genes rise in the winter as an offensive measure against pathogens or as a response to heightened pathogen exposure. “That’s the ‘chicken and egg’ argument,” said Todd.

Knowledge of seasonal gene expression could potentially help researchers better understand and treat seasonal diseases. For example, it is known that death from cardiovascular disease is more likely in the winter when, according to this research, expression of pro-inflammatory genes is high.

‘Our observations help explain why some chronic diseases are seasonal in that our immune systems are heightened to be pro-inflammatory so that when we have a cardiovascular disease, we’re more prone to developing the pathology that might lead to cardiovascular death,’ said Tod. “I’m sure that the greater infectious disease burden that we suffer is also a contributing factor to the changes that we’ve seen, I think it’s both.”

Cermakian said it is too soon to consider the clinical utility of these findings. “What is sure,” he noted, “is that timing information, circadian but also possibly seasonal/annual, will need to be taken into account more and more in the future, with the aim of providing the most adequate treatment to patients. The response to a treatment might be very different at one time of the year or six months later.”

Castro Dopico X et al. (2015) Widespread seasonal gene expression reveals annual differences in human immunity and physiology. Nat Commun. doi:10.1038/ncomms8000

  • Give at least three examples how you use the computer for your work as a biotechnological assistant.
  • Give the results of the studies in short in your own words!
  • What might be the further application of this finding in red biotechnology?
  • Find arguments in favour and against categorizing biotechnology in colours. Could you think of any other categorisation?
  • What databases in biotechnology do you use? Give at least one detailed description of one database!

Find the Words in the Text Which Have the Following Meaning



Advantages and Disadvantages of Using the Computer Sciences in Biotechnology

Add at least four advantages and disadvantages.

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Fill in the missing words from the text.

  • If you have a cold, fever and a cough, you have a ______________.
  • A _________ is a collection of data.
  • Someone who gives blood to another person is called ______________.
  • ____________ are the reason for a disease e.g. viruses.
  • An ___________ of the tonsils or lungs can lead to a serious disease.

Find the Synonyms and Antonyms

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Computer Usage for Biotechnology

Give at least three examples of concrete uses as a BIOTA in the field of:

  • office programme
  • data evaluation (excel, auxiliary programmes for the instrumental analytics)
  • process control in the production and development
  • database research

Match the Syllables to Four Words

e.g. = ex -pression, -ercise, -tinction, -amine

Important Vocabulary in the Field of Gold Biotechnology

Orange biotechnology.

The topic of orange biotechnology is the reflection about how to teach and what to teach about biotechnology due to the fact that biotechnology is a rather complex field with a lot of interdisciplinary connections. Although biotechnology is a very old science, the word biotechnology was for the first time created in 1919 by Karl Ereky, director of the cattle utilization cooperative who published a book with the title: “Biotechnology of meat, fat and milk production in agricultural large concerns for scientific sophisticated farmers”.

Teachers have a great responsibility regarding the viewpoint about biotechnology but also the media. Therefore to think about the consequences not only in teaching sciences but also in teaching other aspects related to it such as ethics is a crucial effect. Scientists, who are teaching biotechnology, have the aim to open the mind of young people for biotechnology and making biotechnology more public and young people interested in their subject.

Therefore pupils should do an evaluation about their perception about how and what they learn in the field of biotechnology in applying different methods to evaluate their experiences.

Application Exercise

Choose a method how to evaluate teaching of biotechnology:

  • Bar chart, pie chart, line chart
  • Questionnaire
  • Target (give every classmate a red dot to attach it on the target)

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Form 10 Questions in Groups About Five Topics Concerning the Perception of Biotechnology to the Class

It is not allowed to pose a question which can only be answered by yes or no.

  • Do you think that biotechnology has a positive or negative image or both in public? Give reasons for it. (Questionnaire resulting in a pie chart)

Give a number from 1 to 10. (Scale)

  • Are you satisfied with the teaching methods about biotechnology? (Target)

Quiz About Biotechnology

Divide the class into two groups A and B. Each group can choose a field. 100 is the most difficult question. 20 is the easiest question. Who has answered most of the questions correctly has won. The teacher has to ask five questions for every field.

Bioeconomy represents the production of renewable biological resources into value added products such as food or biomass. Bioeconomy wants to reach the transition of the industry by using as less fossil fuels as possible.

General Text (Tab.  1.12 )

Vocabulary for the text: bioeconomy: a new model for industry and the economy

Bioeconomy: A New Model for Industry and the Economy

On the one hand, a bioeconomy relies on renewable resources to meet society’s need for food, energy and industrial products. On the other, it emphasises the role of biogenic material flows. The bioeconomy model is expected to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels in the long term. In order to implement the shift from a fossil-based economy to a biobased economy on the regional level, the Baden-Württemberg government launched the Bioeconomy Research Strategy in summer 2013.

It is a very large wheel that natural scientists, engineers, economists, ethicists, politicians and others are starting to turn. A wheel that, understandably, is only slowly gaining momentum . After all, it is a question of creating a whole new raw material basis for industry and the economy. It is about developing a new system in which science, industry and value creation interact in different ways than they did before. In the transition from a fossil-based to a biobased economy, oil, natural gas and coal will gradually become less important. These fossil fuels will be replaced by plants, plant residues, biowaste and other biobased materials.

More than ever before industry and science will have to act as a system, and previously non-existent connections will be established between different value creation chains.

Important economic factor: hydrocarbons

The industrialization of the past 250 years is based on good ideas, drive and fossil fuels. Therefore, all industrialised economies are built on oil, gas and coal. Oil plays a particularly important role as it is used to produce organic chemicals, i.e. hydrocarbons. These are the basis for energy carriers such as petrol, diesel fuel and kerosene. Hydrocarbons form the economic basis of the chemical industry.

Solvents, paints, plastics, basic and fine chemicals, additives and many other products are produced from oil using complex, but well structured and established industrial processes. Moreover, our mobility, communication, nutrition, agriculture as well as the energy sector and others are directly dependent on fossil hydrocarbons. Our everyday life is unthinkable without fossil fuels – coal, oil and gas. Hydrocarbons are an important element of the economies of industrial countries where value is created by the efficacy with which hydrocarbons are converted into marketable products; they also make a decisive contribution to shaping the global economic system.

Four challenges

If the vision of a bioeconomy is to become reality, it must not be based on replacing existing infrastructures. Instead a bioeconomy must be built on existing industrial processes. This means that it should initially offer drop-in solutions in order to gain a foothold in industry. At the same time, new processes, products and value creation chains need to be established. Four challenges need to be solved.

First: The bioeconomy must ensure a solid and reliable raw material base through agricultural and forestry production. These raw materials must be distributed in a way that assures human nutrition as well as taking into account all the economic sectors that use these raw materials.

Waste management is an important source of raw materials in a biobased economy. It can provide large quantities of biogenic waste – plant residues, fermentation residues, organic waste and material from landscape management. These materials can primarily be used for the production of energy, chemicals and materials. However, it will be necessary to adapt waste management material flows to the new value creation chains of the bioeconomy.

The second challenge relates to the conversion of biobased materials into hydrocarbons using so called conversion processes. Conversion processes can be seen as the bridge between petrochemistry and the new green chemistry. The production of hydrocarbons directly from biomass is already possible; however, the methods need to be further developed on a large industrial scale.

Conversion is only one field where a bioeconomy offers sales opportunities. Further potential lies in new materials. The fine-tuned process control of chemical, thermal and biotechnological process steps has the potential to release and use these potentials. One example is the biobased polyamide-5,10 developed by the Biopolymers/Biomaterials cluster.

The third challenge is sustainability. Sustainability is inseparable from bioeconomy. No sustainability, no bioeconomy. This statement underlies further fundamental requirements. Although some have been discussed and dealt with over the past years and decades, they need to occupy a more prominent place in discussions relating to the economy and industry of the future, and include such issues as the effective protection of the climate, water, soil as well as biodiversity. The objective of using raw materials from fields, forests and meadows for industrial production is more than ever associated with the need to manage and maintain the respective ecosystems. This includes rigorous protection of the climate, water, soil and biodiversity. This is where biodiversity research comes into play, which essentially means that the bioeconomy needs to promote a wide range of species, i.e. a biodiversity. It would be contradictory and dangerous for biodiversity if land-use methods that were focused simply on mass production were to be applied.

A bioeconomy also touches on ethical and social issues. Agricultural land is limited. We need to decide how much land is to be set aside for the production of food and feed, fuels and biobased materials. Against a background of hunger, species extinction, environmental and climate protection, the competition between food and fuel calls for a fundamental assessment of the respective fields of action in ethical terms. The Baden-Württemberg Bioeconomy Strategy Circle emphasises that the transition to a biobased economy also needs to take social interest into account.

The fourth challenge is to convert technological solutions that are established in the different sectors of the bioeconomy into jobs, production plants, services and goods for export. This fulfills the economic and commercial aspects of a bioeconomy. In addition, criteria that enable the economic assessment of environmental and climate protection as well as biodiversity need to be developed. A bioeconomy also requires us to change our mindset . On the one hand, questions relating to immaterial values must be asked and answered and on the other hand, soft factors such as biodiversity need to be recognized as being able to create added value.

Bioeconomy research in Baden-Württemberg

These challenges result in a considerable need for research. Scientists in Baden-Württemberg are investigating some of the topics that are of key importance in the transition from a fossil-based to a biobased economy.

The University of Hohenheim carries out research into biomass production, biomass potentials, land use, land-use changes and many other aspects associated with biobased raw materials. The Institute of Farm Management led by Prof. Dr. Enno Bahrs at the University of Hohenheim is mainly focused on efficiency. How can land be used efficiently? Which plants are best for which purpose? How must material flows and production systems be designed and implemented in order to achieve ideal efficiency?

Prof. Gero Becker from the Institute of Forest Utilisation and Work Science at the University of Freiburg is focused on research to improve the industrial utilisation of forest wood products. His research takes into account biomass quantities and resources as well as biomass quality in terms of conversion.

Professor Henning Bockhorn at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) has developed a method known as “biomass steam processing” that enables the production of biochar from residual biomass.

The transition to a biobased economy cannot be achieved without science and research, i.e. an increase in knowledge. This is why the term “knowledge-based bioeconomy (KBBE)” is often used. The Baden-Württemberg government launched the Baden-Württemberg Bioeconomy Research Programme in summer 2013, for which the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts will provide around 12 million euros between 2014 and 2019. Funding will be provided to research that is specifically focused on biogas, the use lignocellulose and the use of microalgae.

  • Explain the meaning of biogenic material flow.
  • Give at least three examples of products you use which are made out of fossil fuels. For each example give an idea how they could be replaced by other products.
  • The author emphasizes four challenges. Please explain them more closely with your own words.
  • Which aspects about bioeconomy do universities in Baden-Württemberg research about?
  • Why is biomass not environmentally-friendly?
  • Draw a conclusion about bioeconomy! Give your opinion about the success of bioeconomy.

Do as Much Research About the Pros and Cons Of

  • fossil fuels

Fill in the advantages and disadvantages into the table:

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True or False

Try to find out whether the following statements are true or false. If they are false correct the statements.

  • Bioeconomy takes time to be set into practice.
  • Green chemistry deals with the aim to be environmentally friendly and to reduce energy consumption as well as to create very cheap products.
  • A value creation chain includes different entrepreneurial activities such as production of goods, logistics, marketing, sales.
  • The Ministry is funding 12 million Euros for research about “knowledge-based bioeconomy” (KBBE).
  • Plastics are completely biodegradable.
  • Cosmetics contain partly oil.
  • Biomass consists out of plant and animal products which are used to generate energy.
  • Waste management has already reached the value creation chain.
  • Sustainability means that the regeneration of natural resources is guaranteed.
  • Prof. Becker does research about the usage of forest wood products.

Explain Three Bioeconomic Products More Closely! Make Up at Least Five Sentences!

  • bioplastics
  • sustainable textiles

(Further information: )

Translate the Following Sentences

Especially with respect to production of medicinal preparations, pharmaceutical companies are increasingly resorting to biological insights. Although chemically produced, medicine still represents the largest share on the German pharma market, so called biopharmaceuticals are increasingly gaining ground. Their sales of 5,5 billion euros are currently 21 % of the market, with a rising trend. These drugs consist of biomolecules that are so large that they cannot be manufactured by man – or only at prohibitive cost. These medications include antibodies against cancer and against auto-immune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, hormones such as insulin for treatment of diabetes and enzymes against metabolic diseases. Techniques from advanced biotechnology developed in the 1980s are applied for their production living microorganisms and cells can thereby be re-programmed as mini-factories (see action “The high-tech tools of bioeconomy”).

Sources: p. 61 in pdf

Do a Presentation About One of the Following Topics

  • Bioeconomy is not only necessary because fossil fuels are running out but also because of other reasons. Give at least four other reasons. Explain them more closely.
  • sustainability
  • waste management

Excursion suggestion: Visit a bio economic company

Insert the Missing Words into the Gap Text

Bioeconomy cares about _____________. So for example waste such as paper is reused to remake paper.

The reuse of plastics or glass is part of the ___________________.

The government ____________ all new inventions in the field of bioeconomy.

The products have to be tested in order to know whether they are _____________.

Scientists ______________ new bioeconomic techniques.

____________ are used for biomass to create energy.

____________ energies are solar energy and wind energy.

Industry and the government have to ________ with each other in order to boost bioeconomy.

Important Words in the Field of Bioeconomy


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Elizabeth Baca, Specialist Leader, Deloitte Consulting, and former Deputy Director, California Governor’s Office of Planning and Research & Elizabeth O’Day, Founder, Olaris, Inc

What if your doctor could predict your heart attack before you had it – and prevent it? Or what if we could cure a child’s cancer by exploiting the bacteria in their gut?

These types of biotechnology solutions aimed at improving human health are already being explored. As more and more data (so called “big data") is available across disparate domains such as electronic health records, genomics, metabolomics , and even life-style information, further insights and opportunities for biotechnology will become apparent. However, to achieve the maximal potential both technical and ethical issues will need to be addressed.

As we look to the future, let’s first revisit previous examples of where combining data with scientific understanding has led to new health solutions.

Biotechnology is a rapidly changing field that continues to transform both in scope and impact. Karl Ereky first coined the term biotechnology in 1919. However, biotechnology’s roots trace back to as early as the 1600s when a Prussian physician, Georg Ernst Stahl, pioneered a new fermentation technology referred to as “zymotechnology.”

Over the next few centuries, “biotechnology” was primarily focused on improving fermentation processes to make alcohol and later food production. With the discovery of penicillin, new applications emerged for human health. In 1981, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) defined biotechnology as, “the application of scientific and engineering principles to the processing of materials by biological agents to provide the goods and services.”

Today, the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) defines biotechnology as “technology based on biology - biotechnology harnesses cellular and biomolecular processes to develop technologies and products that help improve our lives and the health of our planet.

In the Fourth Industrial Revolution, biotechnology is poised for its next transformation. It is estimated that between 2010 and 2020 there will be a 50-fold growth of data .

Just a decade ago, many did not even see a need for a smart phone, whereas today, each click, step we take, meal we eat, and more is documented, logged and analyzed on a level of granularity not possible a decade ago.

Concurrent with the collection of personal data, we are also amassing a mountain of biological data (such as genomics, microbiome, proteomics, exposome, transcriptome, and metabolome). This biological-big-data coupled with advanced analytical tools has led to a deeper understanding about fundamental human biology. Further, digitization is revolutionizing health care, allowing for patient reported symptoms, feelings, health outcomes and records such as radiographs and pathology images to be captured as mineable data.

As these datasets grow and have the opportunity to be combined, what is the potential impact to biotechnology and human health? And better still, what is the impact on individual privacy?

Disclaimer: The authors above do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of the organizations with which they are affiliated.

research papers on the biotechnology

The role of big data in biotech breakthroughs

Daniel Heath, Senior Lecturer in the University of Melbourne's Department of Biomedical Engineering & Elizabeth Baca & Elizabeth O’Day

One of the most fundamental and powerful data sets for human health is the human genome. DNA is our biological instruction set composed of billions of repeating chemical groups (thymine, adenine, guanine, and cytosine) that are connected to form a code. A person’s genome is the complete set of his or her DNA code, ie the complete instructions to make that individual.

DNA acts as a template to produce a separate molecule called RNA through the process of transcription. Many RNA molecules in turn act as a template for the production of proteins, a process referred to as translation. These proteins then go on to carry out many of the fundamental cellular tasks required for life. Therefore any unwanted changes in DNA can have downstream effects on RNA and proteins. This can have little to no effect or result in a wide range of diseases such as Huntington’s disease, cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anaemia, and many more.

Genomic sequencing involves mapping the complete set, or part of individual’s DNA code. Being able to detect unwanted changes in DNA not only provides powerful insight to understand disease but can also lead to new diagnostic and therapeutic interventions.

The first human genome sequence was finished in 2003, took 13 years to complete, and cost billions of dollars. Today due to biotech and computational advancements, sequencing a person’s genome costs approximately $1,000 and can be completed in about a day.

Important milestones in the history of genomics

1869 - DNA was first identified

1953 - Structure of DNA established

1977 - DNA Sequencing by chemical degradation

1986 - The first semi-automated DNA sequencing machine produced

2003 - Human genome project sequenced first entire genome at the cost of $3 billion

2005 - Canada launches personal genome project

2007 - 23andMe markets first direct to consumer genetic testing for ancestry of autosomal DNA

2008 - First personal genome sequenced

2012 - England launched (and finished in 2018) 100K genome project

2013 - Saudi Arabia launched the Saudi Human Genome Program

2015 - US launched plan to sequence one million genomes

2015 - Korea launched plan to sequence 10K genomes

2016 - US launched All of Us Research cohort to enroll one million or more participants to collect lifestyle, environment, genetic, and biologic data

2016 - China launched the Precision Medicine initiative with 60 billion RMB

2016 - France started Genomic Medicine 2025 Project

Treatments available today due to DNA technology

Knowing the structure and function of DNA has also enabled us to develop breakthrough biotechnology solutions that have greatly improved the quality of life of countless individuals. A few examples include:

Genetic screenings for diseases. An individual can scan his or her DNA code to look for known mutations linked to disease. Newborns are often screened at birth to identify treatable genetic disorders. For instance, all newborns in the US are screened for a disease called severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID). Individuals with this genetic disease lack a fully functional immune system and usually die within a year, if not treated. However, due to regular screenings, these newborns can receive a bone marrow transplant, which has a more than 90% of success rate to treat SCID. A well-known example in adults is screening women for mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes as risk factor for developing breast cancer or ovarian cancer.

Recombinant protein production. This technology allows scientists to introduce human genes into microorganisms to produce human proteins that can be introduced back to patients to carry out vital functions. In 1978, the company Genentech developed a process to recombinantly produce human insulin, a protein needed to regulate blood glucose. Recombinant insulin is still used to treat diabetes.

CAR T cells . CAR T cell therapy is a technique to help your immune system recognize and kill cancer cells. Immune cells, called T-cells, from a cancer patient are isolated and genetically engineered to express receptors that allow them to identify cancer cells. When these modified T cells are put back into the patient they can help find and kill the cancer cells. Kymriah, used to treat a type of leukemia, and Yescarta, used to treat a type of lymphoma are examples of FDA approved CAR T cell treatments.

Gene therapy. The goal of gene therapy is to replace a missing or defective gene with a normal one to correct the disorder. The first in vivo gene therapy drug, Luxterna, was approved by the FDA in 2017 to treat an inherited degenerative eye disease called Leber’s congenital amaurosis.

Disclaimer: The authors above do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of the organizations with which they are affiliated .

Frontiers in DNA technology

Our understanding of genetic data continues to lead to new and exciting technologies with the potential to revolutionize and improve our health outcomes. A few examples being developed are described below.

Organoids for drug screening . Organoids are miniature and simplified organs that can be developed outside the body with a defined genome. Organoid systems may one day be used to discover new drugs, tailor treatments to a particular person’s disease or even as treatments themselves.

CRISPR-Cas9 . This is a form of gene therapy - also known as genetic engineering - where the genome is cut at a desired location and existing genes can either be turned off or modified. Animal models have shown that this technique has great promise in the treatment of many hereditary diseases such as sickle cell disease, haemophilia, Huntington’s disease, and more.

We believe sequencing will become a mainstay in the future of human health.

While genomic data is incredibly insightful, it is important to realize, genomics rarely tells the complete story.

Except for rare cases, just because an individual has a particular genetic mutation does not mean they will develop a disease. Genomics provides information on “what could happen” to an individual. Additional datasets such the microbiome, metabolome, lifestyle data and others are needed to answer what will happen.

The role of the microbiome

Elizabeth O’Day & Elizabeth Baca

The microbiome is sometimes referred to as the 'essential organ', the'forgotten organ', our 'second genome' or even our 'second brain'. It includes the catalog of approximately 10-100 trillion microbial cells (bacteria, archea, fungi, virus and eukaryotic microbes) and their genes that reside in each of us. Estimates suggest we have 150 times more microbial DNA from more than 10,000 different species of known bacteria than human DNA.

Microbes reside everywhere (mouth, stomach, intestinal tract, colon, skin, genitals, and possibly even the placenta). The function of the microbiome differs according to different locations in the body and with different ages, sexes, races and diets of the host. Bacteria in the gut digest foods, absorb nutrients, and produce beneficial products that would otherwise not be accessible. In the skin, microbes provide a physical barrier protecting against foreign pathogens through competitive exclusion, and production of antimicrobial substances. In addition, microbes help regulate and influence the immune system. When there is an imbalance in the microbiome, known as dysbiosis, disease can develop. Chronic diseases such as obesity, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes mellitus, metabolic syndrome, atherosclerosis, alcoholic liver disease (ALD), nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), cirrhosis, hepatocellular carcinoma and other conditions are linked to improper microbiome functioning.

Milestones in our understanding of the microbiome

1680s - Dutch scientist Antonie van Leeuwenhoek compared his oral and fecal microbiota. He noted striking differences in microbes between these two habitats and also between samples from individuals in different states of health.

1885 - Theodor Escherich first describes and isolates Escherichia coli (E. coli) from the feces of newborns in Germany

1908 - Elie Metchnikoff, Russian zoologist, theorized health could be enhanced and senility delayed by bacteria found in yogurt

1959 - Germ-free animals (mice, rats, rabbits, guinea pigs, and chicks) reared in stainless steel in plastic housing to study the effects of health in microbe-free environments

1970 - Dr. Thomas D. Luckey estimates 100 billion colonies of microbes in one gram of human intestinal fluid or feces.

1995 - Craig Venter and a team of researchers sequence the genome of bacterium Haemophilus influenza, making it the first organism to have its genome completely sequenced.

1996 - The first human fecal sample is sequenced using 16S rRNA sequencing.

2001- Scientist Joshua Lederberg credited with coining term “microbiome”.

2005 - Researchers identify bacteria in amniotic fluid of babies born via C-section

2006- First metagenomic analysis of the human gut microbiome is conducted

2007- NIH sponsored Human Microbiome Project (HMP) launches a study to define how the microbial species affect humans and their relationships to health

2009- First microbiome study showing an association between gut microbiome in lean and obese adults

2011- German researchers identify 3 enterotypes in the human gut microbiome: Baceroids, Prevotella, and Ruminococcus

2011- Gosalbes performed the first metatransciptomic analysis of healthy human gut microbiota

2012 - HMP unveils first “map” of microbes inhabiting healthy humans. Results generated from 80 collaborating scientific institutions found more than 10,000 microbial species occupy the human ecosystem, comprising trillions of cells and making up 1-3% of the body’s mass.

2012 - American Gut Project founded, providing an open-to-the-public platform for citizen scientists seeking to analyze their microbiome and compare it to the microbiomes of others.

2014 - The Integrative Human Microbiome Project (iHMP), begins with goal of studying 3 microbiome-associated conditions.

2016 - The Flemish Gut Flora Project, one of the world’s largest population-wide studies on variations in gut microbiota publishes analysis on more than 1,100 human stool samples.

2018 - The American Gut Project publishes the largest study to date on the microbiome. The results include microbial sequence data from 15,096 samples provided by11,336 participants across the US, UK, Australia and 42 other countries.

What solutions are alre ady (or could be) derived from this dataset?

Biotechnology solutions based off microbiome data have already been developed or are in the process of development. A few key examples are highlighted below:

Probiotics . Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that may prevent or treat certain disease. They were first theorized in 1908 and are now a common food additive. From yogurts to supplements, various probiotics are available for purchase in grocery stores and pharmacies, claiming various benefits. For example probiotic VSL#3 has been shown to reduce liver disease severity and hospitalization in patients with cirrhosis.

Diagnostics . Changes in composition of particular microbes are noted as potential biomarkers. An example includes the ratio of Bifidobacterium to Enterobacteriaceae know as the B/E ratio. A B/E greater than 1 suggests a healthy microbiome and a B/E less than 1 could suggest cirrhosis or particular types of infection.

Fecal Microbiome transplantation (FMT). Although not FDA-approved, fecal microbiome transplantation (FMT) is a widely used method where a fecal preparation from a healthy stool donor is transplanted into the colon of patient via colonoscopy, naso-enteric tube, or capsules. FMT has been used to treat Clostridium difficile infections with 80-90% cure rates (far better efficacy than antibiotics).

Therapeutics. The microbiome dataset is also producing several innovative therapies. Development of bacteria consortia and single strains (both natural and engineered) are in clinical development. Efforts are also underway to identify and isolate microbiome metabolites with important function, such as the methicillin-resistant antibiotics that were identified by primary sequencing of the human gut microbiome.

By continuing to build the microbiome dataset and expand our knowledge of host-microbiome interactions, we may be able correct various states of disease and improve human health.

The role of clinical data, and the doctor's 'sixth sense'

Pam Randhawa, CEO and founder of Empiriko Corporation, Andrew Steinberg, Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, Brown University, Elizabeth Baca & Elizabeth O’Day

For centuries, physicians were limited by the data they were able to obtain via external examination of an individual patient or an autopsy.

More recently, technological advancements have enabled clinicians to identify and monitor internal processes which were previously hidden within living patients.

One of the earliest examples of applied technology occurred in the 1890s when German physicist Wilhelm Röntgen discovered the potential medical applications of X-rays.

Since that time, new technologies have expanded clinical knowledge in imaging, genomics, biomarkers, response to medications, and the microbiome. Collectively, this extended database of high quality, granular information has enhanced the physician’s diagnostic capabilities and has translated into improved clinical outcomes.

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Today’s clinicians increasingly rely on medical imaging and other technology- based diagnostic tools to non-invasively look below the surface to monitor treatment efficacy and screen for pathologic processes, often before clinical symptoms appear.

In addition, the clinician’s senses can be extended by electronic data capture systems, IVRS, wearable devices, remote monitoring systems, sensors and iPhone applications. Despite access to this new technology, physicians continue to obtain a patient’s history in real-time followed by a hands-on assessment of physical findings, an approach which can be limited by communication barriers, time, and the physician’s ability to gather or collate data.

One of the largest examples of clinical data collection, integration and analysis occurred in the 1940s with the National Heart Act which created the National Heart Institute and the Framingham Heart Study. The Framingham Original Cohort was started in 1948 with 5,209 men and women between the ages of 30-62 with no history of heart attack or stroke.

Over the next 71 years, the study evolved to gather clinical data for cardiovascular and other medical conditions over several generations. Prior to that time the concepts of preventive medicine and risk factors (a term coined by the Framingham study) were not part of the medical lexicon. The Framingham study enabled physicians to harness observations gathered from individuals’ physical examination findings, biomarkers, imaging and other physiologic data on a scale which was unparalleled.

The adoption of electronic medical records helped improve data access, but in their earliest iterations only partially addressed the challenges of data compartmentalization and interoperability (silos).

Recent advances in AI applications, EMR data structure and interoperability have enabled clinicians and researchers to improve their clinical decision making. However, accessibility, cost and delays in implementing global interoperability standards have limited data accessibility from disparate systems and have delayed introduction of EMRs in some segments of the medical community.

To this day, limited interoperability, the learning curve and costs associated with implementation are cited as major contributors to physician frustration, burnout and providers retiring early from patient care settings.

However, an interoperability platform known as Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR, pronounced "FIRE") is being developed to exchange electronic health records and unlock silos. The objective of FHIR is to facilitate interoperability between legacy health care systems. The platform facilitates easier access to health data on a variety of devices (e.g., computers, tablets, cell phones), and allows developers to provide medical applications which can be easily integrated into existing systems.

As the capacity to gather information becomes more meaningful, the collection, integration, analysis and format of clinical data submission requires standardization. In the late 1990s, the Clinical Data Interchange Standards Consortium (CDISC) was formed “to develop and support global, platform-independent data standards which enable information system interoperability to improve medical research”. Over the past several years, CDISC has developed several models to support the organization of clinical trial data.

Milestones in the discovery/development of clinical data and technologies

500BC - The world's first clinical trial recorded in the “Book of Daniel” in The Bible

1747 - Lind’s Scurvy trial which contained most characteristics of a controlled trial

1928 - American College of Surgeons sought to improve record standards in clinical settings

1943 - First double blinded controlled trial of patulin for common cold (UK Medical Research Council)

1946 - First randomized controlled trial of streptomycin in pulmonary tuberculosis conducted (UK Medical Research Council)

1946 - American physicists Edward Purcell and Felix Bloch independently discover nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR).

1947 - First International guidance on the ethics of medical research involving human subjects – Nuremberg Code

1955 - Scottish physician Ian Donald begins to investigate the use of gynecologic ultrasound.

1960 - First use of endoscopy to examine a patient’s stomach.

1964 - World Medical Association guidelines on use of human subjects in medical research (Helsinki Declaration)

1967 - 1971 - English electrical engineer Godfrey Hounsfield conceives the idea for computed tomography. First CT scanner installed in Atkinson Morley Hospital, Wimbledon, England. First patient brain scan performed - October 1971.

1972 - First Electronic Health Record designed

1973 - American chemist Paul Lauterbur produces the first magnetic resonance image (MRI) using nuclear magnetic resonance data and computer calculations of tomography.

1974 - American Michael Phelps develops the first positron emission tomography (PET) camera and the first whole-body system for human and animal studies.

1977 - First MRI body scan is performed on a human using an MRI machine developed by American doctors Raymond Damadian, Larry Minkoff and Michael Goldsmith.

1990 - Ultrasound becomes a routine procedure to check fetal development and diagnose abnormalities.

Early-Mid 1990 - Development of electronic data capture (EDC) system for clinical trials (electronic case report forms)

1996 - International Conference on Harmonization published Good Clinical Practice which has become the universal standard for ethical conduct of clinical trials.

Late 1990s - The Clinical Data Interchange Standards Consortium (CDISC) was formed with the mission “to develop and support global, platform-independent data standards that enable information system interoperability to improve medical research”

2009 - American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 passed including $19.2 Billion of funding for hospitals and physicians to adopt EHRs

2014 - HL-7 International published FHIR as a "Draft Standard for Trial Use" (DSTU)

Emerging Solutions

The convergence of scientific knowledge, robust clinical data, and engineering in the digital age has resulted in the development of dynamic healthcare technologies which allow for earlier and more accurate disease detection and therapeutic efficacy in individuals and populations.

The emergence of miniaturized technologies such as handheld ultrasound, sleep tracking, cardiac monitoring and lab-on-a-chip technologies will likely accelerate this trend. Among the most rapidly evolving fields in data collection, has been in clinical laboratory medicine where continuous point-of-care testing, portable mass spectrometers, flow analysis, PCR, and use of MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry for pathogen identification provide insight into numerous clinically relevant biomarkers.

Coupled with high resolution and functional medical imaging the tracking of these biomarkers gives a metabolic fingerprint of disease, thereby opening a new frontier in “Precision Medicine”.

Beyond these capabilities, artificial intelligence (AI) applications are being developed to leverage the sensory and analytic capabilities of humans via medical image reconstruction and noise reduction. AI solutions for computer-aided detection and radiogenomics enable clinicians to better predict risk and patient outcomes.

These technologies stratify patients into cohorts for more precise diagnosis and treatment. As AI technology evolves, the emergence of the “virtual radiologist” could become a reality. Since the humans cannot gather, collate and quickly analyze this volume of granular information, these innovations will replace time-intensive data gathering with more cost-effective analytic approaches to clinical decision-making.

As the population ages and lives longer, increasing numbers of people will be impacted by multiple chronic conditions which will be treated contemporaneously with multiple medications. Optimally these conditions will be monitored at home or in another remote setting outside of a hospital.

Platforms are under development where the next generation of laboratory technologies will be integrated into an interoperable system which includes miniaturized instruments and biosensors. This will be coupled with AI driven clinical translation models to assess disease progression and drug effectiveness.

This digital data will be communicated in real time to the patient’s electronic medical record. This type of system will shift clinical medicine from reactive to proactive care and provide more precise clinical decision-making.

With this enhanced ability to receive more granular, high quality clinical information comes an opportunity and a challenge. In the future, the ability to leverage the power of computational modeling, artificial intelligence will facilitate a logarithmic explosion of clinically relevant correlations.

This will enable discovery of new therapies and novel markers which will empower clinicians to more precisely manage risk for individuals and populations. This form of precision medicine and predictive modeling will likely occur across the disease timeline, potentially even before birth.

Stakeholders will need to pay close attention to maintaining the privacy and security of patient data as it moves across different platforms and devices.

However, the potential benefits of this interoperability far outweigh the risks. This will raise a host of ethical questions, but also the potential for a series of efficiencies which will make healthcare more accessible and affordable to a greater number of people.

Lifestyle and environmental data

Jessica Shen, Vice President at Royal Philips, Elizabeth Baca & Elizabeth O’Day

In medicine and public health there is often tension between the effect of genetics verses the effect of the environment, and which plays a bigger role in health outcomes. But rather than an either or approach, science supports that both factors are at play and contribute to health and disease.

For instance, one can be genetically at risk for diabetes, but with excellent diet and exercise and a healthy lifestyle, the disease can still be avoided.

In fact, many people who are newly diabetic or pre-diabetic can reverse the course of their disease through lifestyle modifications. Alternatively, someone at risk of asthma who is exposed to bad air quality can go on to develop the disease, but then become relatively asymptomatic in an environment with less triggers.

The growing literature on the importance of lifestyle, behaviours, stressors, social, economic, and environmental factors, (the latter also known as the social determinants of health), have been relatively hard to capture for real time clinical information.

It has been especially challenging to integrate all of the data together for better insight. However, that is changing. In this new data frontier, the growth of data in the lifestyle and environment area offer huge potential to bridge gaps, increase understanding of health in daily life, and tailor treatments for a precision health approach.

1881 - Blood pressure cuff invented

2010 - Asthmapolis founded with sensor to track environmental data on Asthma/COPD rescue inhalers

2011 - First digital FDA blood pressure cuff approved and links to digital phone

2012 - AliveCor receives FDA approval for EKG monitor with Iphone

2017 - 325,000 mobile health apps

2017 - FDA releases Digital Health Innovation Action Plan

2018 - FDA approves first continuous glucose monitor via implantable sensor and mobile app interface

What are some of the benefits suggested with the use of lifestyle data?

Mobile technology has enabled more continuous monitoring in daily life outside of the clinic and in real world settings. As an example the traditional blood pressure cuff invented over 130 years ago was only updated in the last decade to allow remote readings which are digitally captured.

Sensors are now being included to measure environmental factors such as air quality, humidity, and temperature. Other innovations are allowing mood to be captured in real time, brain waves for biofeedback, and other biometrics to improve fitness, nutrition, sleep, and even fertility.

The personal analytics capabilities of devices designed to collect lifestyle data can contribute to health by aiding preventive care and help with the management of ongoing health problems.

Identification of health problems through routine monitoring may evolve into a broad system encompassing many physiologic functions; such as:

  • sleep disturbances (severe snoring; apnea)
  • neuromuscular conditions (identification of early Parkinson’s with the analysis of muscular motion)
  • cardiac problems such as arrhythmias including atrial fibrillation
  • sensors to detect early Alzheimer’s disease via voice changes

The Apple Watch has provided documentation on the use of the device for arrhythmia detection, the series 4 version can generate a ECG similar to a Lead 1 electrocardiogram; claims related to these functions were cleared by FDA (Class II, de Novo). Additional wearable technologies are likely to incorporate such functions in the future.

The instant feedback available with the use of a wearable sensory device can serve as an aid to the management of many chronic conditions including but not limited to diabetes, pulmonary problems, and hypertension.

Many studies have documented the cardiovascular benefits of life-long physical activity. Several biotechnology solutions, designed to track activity with analytical feedback tools provide the opportunity to encourage physical activity to promote health, perhaps even modifying behaviour. A Cochrane Review (Bravata, 2007. PMID 18029834) concluded there was short-term evidence of significant physical activity increase and associated health improvement with the use of a pedometer to increase activity. The feedback associated with today’s data driven health improvement applications should increase the effectiveness over a simple mechanical pedometer. Studies are underway in multiple settings to support the use of activity trackers and feedback-providing analysis tools as beneficial to longer-term health.

Use in research settings

In many circumstances, the collection of clinical data for a formal trial or for use in longitudinal studies is facilitated by direct observation as provided by a network-attached sensor system.

What may future developments support?

The development of ‘smart clothing’ and wearable tech-enabled jewellery as well as implantable devices will lead to less obtrusive observation instruments recording many more physiological indicators.

Wireless networking, both fixed and mobile, continue their stepwise jumps in speed and this capacity growth (5G and Wifi-6 with megabit internet) will support massive increases in the volume of manageable data.

Connecting sensor derived observations to other indicators of health such as medical history and genetics will further expand our understanding of disease and how to live our most healthy lives.

However, for this potential to be realized significant technical and ethical issues must first be addressed.

How to put patients at the centre of innovation

Elissa Prichep, Precision Medicine Lead at the World Economic Forum, Elizabeth Baca & Elizabeth O’Day

The Global Future Council on biotechnology has examined the exponential growth of data across different areas which has lead to breakthrough technologies transforming human health and medicine. Yet let us be clear: it was not some abstract understanding of data that lead to these solutions, it was real data, derived from real individuals, individuals like you. Your data, or data from someone like you, led to those solutions. Did you know that? Did you consent to that?

We believe individuals should feel empowered by contributing to these datasets. You are changing human health- there’s perhaps nothing more important. However, in going through this analysis we were repeatedly concerned about the whether the individuals (“data-contributors”) were properly informed or consented by “data collectors” to use their data?

As we have documented here, amazing, breakthrough technologies and medicines can arise from these datasets. However, there are nefarious situations that could develop as well.

We believe new norms between "data-collectors" and "data contributors"need to be established if we want data to continue to drive the development of biotech solutions to improve human health.

How we think about privacy will change

Although the emergence of digital data through electronic health records, mobile applications, cloud storage and more have had great benefits, there are also privacy risks.

The identification of parties associated with ‘anonymous’ data becomes more likely as more sophisticated algorithms are developed; data that is secure and private today may not be so in the future. Data privacy concerns and data theft along with device hacking are a serious concern today and will only become more so as the volume and types of data collected increase.

As more data is combined, there is a greater risk of reidentification or privacy breaches. For example, when a Harvard professor was able to reidentify more than 40% of the participants in the anonymous genetic study, The Personal Genome Project.

Additionally, as other types of data are added in for health purposes, in retail for example, there is the risk that reidentification can expose private health details, for example when Target identified the pregnancy of a teenage girl to her family.

There must be value from these solutions to entertain the risks associated with combining the data. Integrating patient and participants at the centre of design ensures informed consent and a better likelihood of value that balances the risks and trade-offs.

Inclusion of diverse populations is important for the new insights to have a positive impact

The benefits and risks a patient can expect from an intervention can depend heavily on that person’s unique biological make-up. A 2015 study found that roughly 20% of new drugs approved in the previous six years demonstrated different responses across different racial and ethnic groups.

However, therapeutics are often put on the market without an understanding of the variability in efficacy and safety across patients because that is not assessed in clinical trials, either due to lack of diversity in the trial, lack of asking the right questions, or both. In the US, it is estimated that 80-90% of clinical trial participants are white despite FDA efforts to expand recruitment.

Without an intentional effort, the amassed new knowledge through biotech solutions, if not done with a diverse population, will not yield accurate insight. If the biotech solutions are not representative of the population, there is the potential to increase health disparities.

For example, genetic studies incorrectly inferred an increased risk of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy for African Americans since the genetic insights were largely gathered from anglo populations.

There are many reasons that participation has been so low in research, but authentic engagement, understanding the historical context, and intentionally funding research to increase participation and improve diversity in translational efforts are already on their way such as the All of Us Cohort and the California Initiative to Advance Precision Medicine.

Inclusive participation will help understand where people truly are in their health journey

In the clinical setting, patient centeredness also needs to occur. Healthy individuals are amassing more and more data about themselves and patients with chronic disease are also starting to rely on applications to track everything from sleep to environmental exposures to mood, but this is currently not used to increase insight for health and illness.

As patients and healthy people take charge of their data, it can only be used if they agree to share it. As biotech solutions are developed, integrating data across all the various areas will be vital to truly have an impact.

Next Steps in Biotech Health Solutions

At the start of this series, we asked: what if your doctor could predict your heart attack before you had it? Research is underway to do just that through combining data from the proteome, patient reported symptoms, and biosensors.

Big data analysis is also already yielding new leads to paediatric cancer when looking at the genetic information of tumors. In the future, this is likely to move beyond better treatment to better prevention and earlier detection. And in the case where treatment is needed, a more tailored option could be offered.

The impact of this data on improved health is exciting and impacts each of us. As data grows, increased understanding does as well. Each of us has the opportunity to be a partner in the new data frontier.


- History of ‘Biotechnogy.’ Nature article Feb 1989 - Allan T. Bull, Geoffrey Holt, and Malcolm D. Lilly, Biotechnology: International Trends and Perspectives (Paris: OECD, 1982) - - - Goodrich, et al. 2014. Human genetics shapes the gut microbiome. Cell. 159(4): 789-99. - - - - - - - - no longer supports Internet Explorer.

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Current research in biotechnology: Exploring the biotech forefront

Profile image of Atanas G Atanasov

2019, Current Research in Biotechnology

Biotechnology is an evolving research field that covers a broad range of topics. Here we aimed to evaluate the latest research literature, to identify prominent research themes, major contributors in terms of institutions, countries/re-gions, and journals. The Web of Science Core Collection online database was searched to retrieve biotechnology articles published since 2017. In total, 12,351 publications were identified and analyzed. Over 8500 institutions contributed to these biotechnology publications, with the top 5 most productive ones scattered over France, China, the United States of America, Spain, and Brazil. Over 140 countries/regions contributed to the biotechnology research literature, led by the United States of America, China, Germany, Brazil, and India. Journal of Bioscience and Bioengineer-ing was the most productive journal in terms of number of publications. Metabolic engineering was among the most prevalent biotechnology study themes, and Escherichia coli and Saccharomyces cerevisiae were frequently used in biotechnology investigations, including the biosynthesis of useful biomolecules, such as myo-inositol (vitamin B8), mono-terpenes, adipic acid, astaxanthin, and ethanol. Nanoparticles and nanotechnology were identified too as emerging biotechnology research themes of great significance. Biotechnology continues to evolve and will remain a major driver of societal innovation and development.

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research papers on the biotechnology

Marine Biotechnology

An International Journal Focusing on Marine Genomics, Molecular Biology and Biotechnology

Marine Biotechnology welcomes high-quality research papers presenting novel data on the biotechnology of aquatic organisms.  The journal publishes high quality papers in the areas of molecular biology, genomics, proteomics, cell biology, and biochemistry, and particularly encourages submissions of papers related to genome biology such as linkage mapping, large-scale gene discoveries, QTL analysis, physical mapping, and comparative and functional genome analysis. Papers on technological development and marine natural products should demonstrate innovation and novel applications.

Please note: Marine Biotechnology will not consider papers which deal solely with cDNA cloning, gene cloning, cloning and characterizing of microsatellites, species identification using molecular markers, or EST papers with small collections (less than 2000), or mapping papers with a small number of markers, or papers describing development of cell lines, unless the papers also deal with functionality of genes, provide information on an important biological problem or are related to genome biology.

Marine Biotechnology is the official journal of:: ESMB - The European Society for Marine Biotechnology ( JSMB - The Japanese Society for Marine Biotechnology (http

ANZMBS - The Australia New Zealand Marine Biotechnology Society  (

Find out more about the societies in the Journal Updates

  • The journal’s diverse and international editorial board includes representation across many sub-specialties of research
  • The journal welcomes authors to collaborate and contribute to special thematic issues and topical supplements for consideration
  • MBTE is the official publication of the European Society for Marine Biotechnology (ESMB), the Japanese Society for Marine Biotechnology (JSMB) and the Australia New Zealand Marine Biotechnology Society (ANZMBS)

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  • Zhanjiang (John) Liu

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Issue 4, August 2023

Latest articles

Characteristics and complete genome analysis of a pathogenic aeromonas veronii sj4 from diseased siniperca chuatsi, authors (first, second and last of 9).

  • Xiaojun Zhang
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Acute Salinity Stress Disrupts Gut Microbiota Homeostasis and Reduces Network Connectivity and Cooperation in Razor Clam Sinonovacula constricta

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  • Zijuan Zhang
  • Published: 09 November 2023

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Comparative Analysis of Transposable Elements Reveals the Diversity of Transposable Elements in Decapoda and Their Effects on Genomic Evolution

Authors (first, second and last of 5).

  • Yuanfeng Xu
  • Yongkai Tang
  • Zhaoxia Cui
  • Published: 04 November 2023

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Special Issue-JSMB Marine Biotechnology 2022 Conference

  • Michiaki Yamashita
  • Hiroyuki Yoshikawa
  • Yoshihiro Shiraiwa
  • Content type: Editorial
  • Published: 02 November 2023

Muscle Transcriptome Sequencing Revealed Thermal Stress–Responsive Regulatory Genes in Farmed Rohu, Labeo rohita (Hamilton, 1822)

Authors (first, second and last of 13).

  • Pokanti Vinay Kumar
  • Kiran D. Rasal
  • Manoj P. Brahmane
  • Published: 25 October 2023

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Call for papers - apmbc and anzmbs joint conference special issue.

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The Japanese Society of Marine Biotechnology (JSMB) is pleased to announce the winners of the Students Best Oral Presentations and Best Poster Presentations competition.

Marine Biotechnology Societies ESMB, JSMB and ANZMBS

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AP®︎/College Biology

Course: ap®︎/college biology   >   unit 6.

  • Introduction to genetic engineering

Intro to biotechnology

  • DNA cloning and recombinant DNA
  • Overview: DNA cloning
  • Polymerase chain reaction (PCR)
  • Gel electrophoresis
  • DNA sequencing
  • Applications of DNA technologies
  • Biotechnology

Key points:

  • Biotechnology is the use of an organism, or a component of an organism or other biological system, to make a product or process.
  • Many forms of modern biotechnology rely on DNA technology.
  • DNA technology is the sequencing, analysis, and cutting-and-pasting of DNA.
  • Common forms of DNA technology include DNA sequencing , polymerase chain reaction , DNA cloning , and gel electrophoresis .
  • Biotechnology inventions can raise new practical concerns and ethical questions that must be addressed with informed input from all of society.


What is biotechnology.

  • Beer brewing . In beer brewing, tiny fungi (yeasts) are introduced into a solution of malted barley sugar, which they busily metabolize through a process called fermentation. The by-product of the fermentation is the alcohol that’s found in beer. Here, we see an organism – the yeast – being used to make a product for human consumption.
  • Penicillin. The antibiotic penicillin is generated by certain molds. To make small amounts of penicillin for use in early clinical trials, researchers had to grow up to 500 ‍   liters of “mold juice” a week 1 ‍   . The process has since been improved for industrial production, with use of higher-producing mold strains and better culture conditions to increase yield 2 ‍   . Here, we see an organism (mold) being used to make a product for human use – in this case, an antibiotic to treat bacterial infections.
  • Gene therapy. Gene therapy is an emerging technique used to treat genetic disorders that are caused by a nonfunctional gene. It works by delivering the “missing” gene’s DNA to the cells of the body. For instance, in the genetic disorder cystic fibrosis, people lack function of a gene for a chloride channel produced in the lungs. In a recent gene therapy clinical trial, a copy of the functional gene was inserted into a circular DNA molecule called a plasmid and delivered to patients’ lung cells in spheres of membrane (in the form of a spray) 3 ‍   . In this example, biological components from different sources (a gene from humans, a plasmid originally from bacteria) were combined to make a new product that helped preserve lung function in cystic fibrosis patients.

What is DNA technology?

Examples of dna technologies.

  • DNA cloning. In DNA cloning , researchers “clone” – make many copies of – a DNA fragment of interest, such as a gene. In many cases, DNA cloning involves inserting a target gene into a circular DNA molecule called a plasmid. The plasmid can be replicated in bacteria, making many copies of the gene of interest. In some cases, the gene is also expressed in the bacteria, making a protein (such as the insulin used by diabetics). Insertion of a gene into a plasmid.
  • Polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Polymerase chain reaction is another widely used DNA manipulation technique, one with applications in almost every area of modern biology. PCR reactions produce many copies of a target DNA sequence starting from a piece of template DNA. This technique can be used to make many copies of DNA that is present in trace amounts (e.g., in a droplet of blood at a crime scene).
  • Gel electrophoresis. Gel electrophoresis is a technique used to visualize (directly see) DNA fragments. For instance, researchers can analyze the results of a PCR reaction by examining the DNA fragments it produces on a gel. Gel electrophoresis separates DNA fragments based on their size, and the fragments are stained with a dye so the researcher can see them. DNA fragments migrate through the gel from the negative to the positive electrode. After the gel has run, the fragments are separated by size, with the smallest ones near the bottom (positive electrode) and the largest ones near the top (negative electrode). Based on similar diagram in Reece et al. 5 ‍  
  • DNA sequencing. DNA sequencing involves determining the sequence of nucleotide bases (As, Ts, Cs, and Gs) in a DNA molecule. In some cases, just one piece of DNA is sequenced at a time, while in other cases, a large collection of DNA fragments (such as those from an entire genome) may be sequenced as a group. [What is a genome?]

Biotechnology raises new ethical questions

  • Some of these relate to privacy and non-discrimination. For instance should your health insurance company be able to charge you more if you have a gene variant that makes you likely to develop a disease? How would you feel if your school or employer had access to your genome?
  • Other questions relate to the safety, health effects, or ecological impacts of biotechnologies. For example, crops genetically engineered to make their own insecticide reduce the need for chemical spraying, but also raise concerns about plants escaping into the wild or interbreeding with local populations (potentially causing unintended ecological consequences).
  • Biotechnology may provide knowledge that creates hard dilemmas for individuals. For example, a couple may learn via prenatal testing that their fetus has a genetic disorder. Similarly, a person who has her genome sequenced for the sake of curiosity may learn that she is going to develop an incurable, late-onset genetic disease, such as Huntington's.

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200+ Biotechnology Research Topics: Let’s Shape the Future

biotechnology research topics

In the dynamic landscape of scientific exploration, biotechnology stands at the forefront, revolutionizing the way we approach healthcare, agriculture, and environmental sustainability. This interdisciplinary field encompasses a vast array of research topics that hold the potential to reshape our world. 

In this blog post, we will delve into the realm of biotechnology research topics, understanding their significance and exploring the diverse avenues that researchers are actively investigating.

Overview of Biotechnology Research

Table of Contents

Biotechnology, at its core, involves the application of biological systems, organisms, or derivatives to develop technologies and products for the benefit of humanity. 

The scope of biotechnology research is broad, covering areas such as genetic engineering, biomedical engineering, environmental biotechnology, and industrial biotechnology. Its interdisciplinary nature makes it a melting pot of ideas and innovations, pushing the boundaries of what is possible.

How to Select The Best Biotechnology Research Topics?

  • Identify Your Interests

Start by reflecting on your own interests within the broad field of biotechnology. What aspects of biotechnology excite you the most? Identifying your passion will make the research process more engaging.

  • Stay Informed About Current Trends

Keep up with the latest developments and trends in biotechnology. Subscribe to scientific journals, attend conferences, and follow reputable websites to stay informed about cutting-edge research. This will help you identify gaps in knowledge or areas where advancements are needed.

  • Consider Societal Impact

Evaluate the potential societal impact of your chosen research topic. How does it contribute to solving real-world problems? Biotechnology has applications in healthcare, agriculture, environmental conservation, and more. Choose a topic that aligns with the broader goal of improving quality of life or addressing global challenges.

  • Assess Feasibility and Resources

Evaluate the feasibility of your research topic. Consider the availability of resources, including laboratory equipment, funding, and expertise. A well-defined and achievable research plan will increase the likelihood of successful outcomes.

  • Explore Innovation Opportunities

Look for opportunities to contribute to innovation within the field. Consider topics that push the boundaries of current knowledge, introduce novel methodologies, or explore interdisciplinary approaches. Innovation often leads to groundbreaking discoveries.

  • Consult with Mentors and Peers

Seek guidance from mentors, professors, or colleagues who have expertise in biotechnology. Discuss your research interests with them and gather insights. They can provide valuable advice on the feasibility and significance of your chosen topic.

  • Balance Specificity and Breadth

Strike a balance between biotechnology research topics that are specific enough to address a particular aspect of biotechnology and broad enough to allow for meaningful research. A topic that is too narrow may limit your research scope, while one that is too broad may lack focus.

  • Consider Ethical Implications

Be mindful of the ethical implications of your research. Biotechnology, especially areas like genetic engineering, can raise ethical concerns. Ensure that your chosen topic aligns with ethical standards and consider how your research may impact society.

  • Evaluate Industry Relevance

Consider the relevance of your research topic to the biotechnology industry. Industry-relevant research has the potential for practical applications and may attract funding and collaboration opportunities.

  • Stay Flexible and Open-Minded

Be open to refining or adjusting your research topic as you delve deeper into the literature and gather more information. Flexibility is key to adapting to new insights and developments in the field.

200+ Biotechnology Research Topics: Category-Wise

Genetic engineering.

  • CRISPR-Cas9: Recent Advances and Applications
  • Gene Editing for Therapeutic Purposes: Opportunities and Challenges
  • Precision Medicine and Personalized Genomic Therapies
  • Genome Sequencing Technologies: Current State and Future Prospects
  • Synthetic Biology: Engineering New Life Forms
  • Genetic Modification of Crops for Improved Yield and Resistance
  • Ethical Considerations in Human Genetic Engineering
  • Gene Therapy for Neurological Disorders
  • Epigenetics: Understanding the Role of Gene Regulation
  • CRISPR in Agriculture: Enhancing Crop Traits

Biomedical Engineering

  • Tissue Engineering: Creating Organs in the Lab
  • 3D Printing in Biomedical Applications
  • Advances in Drug Delivery Systems
  • Nanotechnology in Medicine: Theranostic Approaches
  • Bioinformatics and Computational Biology in Biomedicine
  • Wearable Biomedical Devices for Health Monitoring
  • Stem Cell Research and Regenerative Medicine
  • Precision Oncology: Tailoring Cancer Treatments
  • Biomaterials for Biomedical Applications
  • Biomechanics in Biomedical Engineering

Environmental Biotechnology

  • Bioremediation of Polluted Environments
  • Waste-to-Energy Technologies: Turning Trash into Power
  • Sustainable Agriculture Practices Using Biotechnology
  • Bioaugmentation in Wastewater Treatment
  • Microbial Fuel Cells: Harnessing Microorganisms for Energy
  • Biotechnology in Conservation Biology
  • Phytoremediation: Plants as Environmental Cleanup Agents
  • Aquaponics: Integration of Aquaculture and Hydroponics
  • Biodiversity Monitoring Using DNA Barcoding
  • Algal Biofuels: A Sustainable Energy Source

Industrial Biotechnology

  • Enzyme Engineering for Industrial Applications
  • Bioprocessing and Bio-manufacturing Innovations
  • Industrial Applications of Microbial Biotechnology
  • Bio-based Materials: Eco-friendly Alternatives
  • Synthetic Biology for Industrial Processes
  • Metabolic Engineering for Chemical Production
  • Industrial Fermentation: Optimization and Scale-up
  • Biocatalysis in Pharmaceutical Industry
  • Advanced Bioprocess Monitoring and Control
  • Green Chemistry: Sustainable Practices in Industry

Emerging Trends in Biotechnology

  • CRISPR-Based Diagnostics: A New Era in Disease Detection
  • Neurobiotechnology: Advancements in Brain-Computer Interfaces
  • Advances in Nanotechnology for Healthcare
  • Computational Biology: Modeling Biological Systems
  • Organoids: Miniature Organs for Drug Testing
  • Genome Editing in Non-Human Organisms
  • Biotechnology and the Internet of Things (IoT)
  • Exosome-based Therapeutics: Potential Applications
  • Biohybrid Systems: Integrating Living and Artificial Components
  • Metagenomics: Exploring Microbial Communities

Ethical and Social Implications

  • Ethical Considerations in CRISPR-Based Gene Editing
  • Privacy Concerns in Personal Genomic Data Sharing
  • Biotechnology and Social Equity: Bridging the Gap
  • Dual-Use Dilemmas in Biotechnological Research
  • Informed Consent in Genetic Testing and Research
  • Accessibility of Biotechnological Therapies: Global Perspectives
  • Human Enhancement Technologies: Ethical Perspectives
  • Biotechnology and Cultural Perspectives on Genetic Modification
  • Social Impact Assessment of Biotechnological Interventions
  • Intellectual Property Rights in Biotechnology

Computational Biology and Bioinformatics

  • Machine Learning in Biomedical Data Analysis
  • Network Biology: Understanding Biological Systems
  • Structural Bioinformatics: Predicting Protein Structures
  • Data Mining in Genomics and Proteomics
  • Systems Biology Approaches in Biotechnology
  • Comparative Genomics: Evolutionary Insights
  • Bioinformatics Tools for Drug Discovery
  • Cloud Computing in Biomedical Research
  • Artificial Intelligence in Diagnostics and Treatment
  • Computational Approaches to Vaccine Design

Health and Medicine

  • Vaccines and Immunotherapy: Advancements in Disease Prevention
  • CRISPR-Based Therapies for Genetic Disorders
  • Infectious Disease Diagnostics Using Biotechnology
  • Telemedicine and Biotechnology Integration
  • Biotechnology in Rare Disease Research
  • Gut Microbiome and Human Health
  • Precision Nutrition: Personalized Diets Using Biotechnology
  • Biotechnology Approaches to Combat Antibiotic Resistance
  • Point-of-Care Diagnostics for Global Health
  • Biotechnology in Aging Research and Longevity

Agricultural Biotechnology

  • CRISPR and Gene Editing in Crop Improvement
  • Precision Agriculture: Integrating Technology for Crop Management
  • Biotechnology Solutions for Food Security
  • RNA Interference in Pest Control
  • Vertical Farming and Biotechnology
  • Plant-Microbe Interactions for Sustainable Agriculture
  • Biofortification: Enhancing Nutritional Content in Crops
  • Smart Farming Technologies and Biotechnology
  • Precision Livestock Farming Using Biotechnological Tools
  • Drought-Tolerant Crops: Biotechnological Approaches

Biotechnology and Education

  • Integrating Biotechnology into STEM Education
  • Virtual Labs in Biotechnology Teaching
  • Biotechnology Outreach Programs for Schools
  • Online Courses in Biotechnology: Accessibility and Quality
  • Hands-on Biotechnology Experiments for Students
  • Bioethics Education in Biotechnology Programs
  • Role of Internships in Biotechnology Education
  • Collaborative Learning in Biotechnology Classrooms
  • Biotechnology Education for Non-Science Majors
  • Addressing Gender Disparities in Biotechnology Education

Funding and Policy

  • Government Funding Initiatives for Biotechnology Research
  • Private Sector Investment in Biotechnology Ventures
  • Impact of Intellectual Property Policies on Biotechnology
  • Ethical Guidelines for Biotechnological Research
  • Public-Private Partnerships in Biotechnology
  • Regulatory Frameworks for Gene Editing Technologies
  • Biotechnology and Global Health Policy
  • Biotechnology Diplomacy: International Collaboration
  • Funding Challenges in Biotechnology Startups
  • Role of Nonprofit Organizations in Biotechnological Research

Biotechnology and the Environment

  • Biotechnology for Air Pollution Control
  • Microbial Sensors for Environmental Monitoring
  • Remote Sensing in Environmental Biotechnology
  • Climate Change Mitigation Using Biotechnology
  • Circular Economy and Biotechnological Innovations
  • Marine Biotechnology for Ocean Conservation
  • Bio-inspired Design for Environmental Solutions
  • Ecological Restoration Using Biotechnological Approaches
  • Impact of Biotechnology on Biodiversity
  • Biotechnology and Sustainable Urban Development

Biosecurity and Biosafety

  • Biosecurity Measures in Biotechnology Laboratories
  • Dual-Use Research and Ethical Considerations
  • Global Collaboration for Biosafety in Biotechnology
  • Security Risks in Gene Editing Technologies
  • Surveillance Technologies in Biotechnological Research
  • Biosecurity Education for Biotechnology Professionals
  • Risk Assessment in Biotechnology Research
  • Bioethics in Biodefense Research
  • Biotechnology and National Security
  • Public Awareness and Biosecurity in Biotechnology

Industry Applications

  • Biotechnology in the Pharmaceutical Industry
  • Bioprocessing Innovations for Drug Production
  • Industrial Enzymes and Their Applications
  • Biotechnology in Food and Beverage Production
  • Applications of Synthetic Biology in Industry
  • Biotechnology in Textile Manufacturing
  • Cosmetic and Personal Care Biotechnology
  • Biotechnological Approaches in Renewable Energy
  • Advanced Materials Production Using Biotechnology
  • Biotechnology in the Automotive Industry

Miscellaneous Topics

  • DNA Barcoding in Species Identification
  • Bioart: The Intersection of Biology and Art
  • Biotechnology in Forensic Science
  • Using Biotechnology to Preserve Cultural Heritage
  • Biohacking: DIY Biology and Citizen Science
  • Microbiome Engineering for Human Health
  • Environmental DNA (eDNA) for Biodiversity Monitoring
  • Biotechnology and Astrobiology: Searching for Life Beyond Earth
  • Biotechnology and Sports Science
  • Biotechnology and the Future of Space Exploration

Challenges and Ethical Considerations in Biotechnology Research

As biotechnology continues to advance, it brings forth a set of challenges and ethical considerations. Biosecurity concerns, especially in the context of gene editing technologies, raise questions about the responsible use of powerful tools like CRISPR. 

Ethical implications of genetic manipulation, such as the creation of designer babies, demand careful consideration and international collaboration to establish guidelines and regulations. 

Moreover, the environmental and social impact of biotechnological interventions must be thoroughly assessed to ensure responsible and sustainable practices.

Funding and Resources for Biotechnology Research

The pursuit of biotechnology research topics requires substantial funding and resources. Government grants and funding agencies play a pivotal role in supporting research initiatives. 

Simultaneously, the private sector, including biotechnology companies and venture capitalists, invest in promising projects. Collaboration and partnerships between academia, industry, and nonprofit organizations further amplify the impact of biotechnological research.

Future Prospects of Biotechnology Research

As we look to the future, the integration of biotechnology with other scientific disciplines holds immense potential. Collaborations with fields like artificial intelligence, materials science, and robotics may lead to unprecedented breakthroughs. 

The development of innovative technologies and their application to global health and sustainability challenges will likely shape the future of biotechnology.

In conclusion, biotechnology research is a dynamic and transformative force with the potential to revolutionize multiple facets of our lives. The exploration of diverse biotechnology research topics, from genetic engineering to emerging trends like synthetic biology and nanobiotechnology, highlights the breadth of possibilities within this field. 

However, researchers must navigate challenges and ethical considerations to ensure that biotechnological advancements are used responsibly for the betterment of society. 

With continued funding, collaboration, and a commitment to ethical practices, the future of biotechnology research holds exciting promise, propelling us towards a more sustainable and technologically advanced world.

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Fall 2023 | New Master’s Degree in Biotechnology

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MCB to Offer New Master’s Degree in Biotechnology

By Kirsten Mickelwait

biotech research

Until recently, biology graduates had two paths to choose from: either medicine or academia. Within the last decade, however, a third choice has become popular—research careers in the biotechnology industry—but the path to get there has been fairly uncharted. With MCB’s new master’s degree program in biotechnology launching in the summer of 2024, that route just got a whole lot more accessible.  

According to Kunxin Luo, the Kang Family Faculty Director of the master's program and professor of cell and developmental biology, the one-year accelerated professional program will offer coursework, hands-on training in critical lab skills, professional development, and a capstone project. The initial class will accommodate 12 to 15 students and gradually increase each year until reaching a maximum size of 60. The most distinctive feature will be a three-month internship at a biotech company or campus lab/facility.  

UC Berkeley already offers two related master’s programs, but they take very different approaches. The Department of Bioengineering’s Master of Translational Medicine (MTM), a joint program with UCSF, focuses on the development of medical devices. The Fung Institute’s Master of Engineering (MEng) degree prepares students to become business professionals in industry.   

Kunxin Luo

MCB’s new program, on the other hand, will train professionals from the bench-science perspective. The curriculum will include training in state-of-the-art technologies and analysis, including gene editing, stem cell and genomic analysis; bioinformatics; and data science. Students will also receive coaching on career development—everything from preparing a resumé and interviewing to presentations and communication skills.  

Students will start in the summer doing full-time lab work, Luo says. “We’ll teach them all the basic skills and new technologies, such as CRISPR/CAS9 gene-editing techniques. They’ll learn how to work with stem cells and how to do various assays, like immunofluorescence and RNA-seq. Then we’ll train them how to perform bioinformatic analysis on the large data set they’ve generated.”  

The biggest difference between this new program and those at other universities is its guaranteed internship. Before creating the program, Luo spoke with CEOs and high-level managers at various biotech and pharmaceutical companies, asking what kinds of candidates they were seeking for mid-level employment. “They told me they need people who are not only biologists but, more importantly, who understand a bit of the business side—like management, regulatory processes, and product development—so they can engage with other professionals across the company,” she says. Luo anticipates a partnership with MCB’s robust Industrial Affiliates Program , which includes many local biotech firms built by Berkeley faculty, among others.  

Tsai-Ching “Jack” Hsi

Equally as important, these companies need employees who have hands-on experience in the biotech setting so they can ramp up quickly. This is a combination not offered by similar programs at other institutions. “Many of these programs are only offered online,” Luo says, “so there's no internship experience at all. By contrast, our program will be completely in person and involve many hands-on experiences.”  

Tsai-Ching “Jack” Hsi is the program's academic coordinator, and a former MCB graduate student researcher in the Bilder Lab. Once the program gets underway, he’ll be an instructor in the core lab courses and will help to mentor students as they navigate future career decisions.  

“I definitely would have been interested in this program if it had existed when I was an undergrad,” Hsi says. “It opens up another avenue for students who are excited about biomedical research but are hesitant to commit five-plus years to a PhD and don’t feel like medical school is the right fit.”  

Local firms are already expressing great interest in collaborating with MCB. “There’s so much interest on both sides with these industrial partnerships,” Luo says. “It’s a win-win situation for both the student and the company.”  

Learn more about the new Master’s in Biotechnology program here .

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Peer Reviewed

What do we study when we study misinformation? A scoping review of experimental research (2016-2022)

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We reviewed 555 papers published from 2016–2022 that presented misinformation to participants. We identified several trends in the literature—increasing frequency of misinformation studies over time, a wide variety of topics covered, and a significant focus on COVID-19 misinformation since 2020. We also identified several important shortcomings, including overrepresentation of samples from the United States and Europe and excessive emphasis on short-term consequences of brief, text-based misinformation. Most studies examined belief in misinformation as the primary outcome. While many researchers identified behavioural consequences of misinformation exposure as a pressing concern, we observed a lack of research directly investigating behaviour change. 

School of Applied Psychology, University College Cork, Ireland

School of Psychology, University College Dublin, Ireland

research papers on the biotechnology

Research Question

  • What populations, materials, topics, methods, and outcomes are common in published misinformation research from 2016–2022?

Essay Summary

  • The goal of this review was to identify the scope of methods and measures used in assessing the impact of real-world misinformation. 
  • We screened 8,469 papers published between 2016 and 2022, finding 555 papers with 759 studies where participants were presented with misinformation. 
  • The vast majority of studies included samples from the United States or Europe, used brief text-based misinformation (1–2 sentences), measured belief in the misinformation as a primary outcome, and had no delay between misinformation exposure and measurement of the outcome. 
  • The findings highlight certain elements of misinformation research that are currently underrepresented in the literature. In particular, we note the need for more diverse samples, measurement of behaviour change in response to misinformation, and assessment of the longer-term consequences of misinformation exposure. 
  • Very few papers directly examined effects of misinformation on behaviour (1%) or behavioural intentions (10%), instead measuring proxy outcomes such as belief or attitudes. Nevertheless, many papers draw conclusions regarding the consequences of misinformation for real-world behaviour.
  • We advise caution in inferring behavioural consequences unless behaviours (or behavioural intentions) are explicitly measured. 
  • We recommend that policymakers reflect on the specific outcomes they hope to influence and consider whether extant evidence indicates that their efforts are likely to be successful.  


In this article, we report a scoping review of misinformation research from 2016-2022. A scoping review is a useful evidence synthesis approach that is particularly appropriate when the purpose of the review is to identify knowledge gaps or investigate research conduct across a body of literature (Munn et al., 2018). Our review investigates the methods used in misinformation research since interest in so-called “fake news” spiked in the wake of the 2016 U.S. presidential election and the Brexit referendum vote. While previous publications have reflected critically on the current focus and future pathways for the field (Camargo & Simon, 2022), here we address a simple question: what do we study when we study misinformation? We are interested in the methods, outcomes, and samples that are commonly used in misinformation research and what that might tell us about our focus and blind spots.         

Our review covers studies published from January 2016 to July 2022 and includes any studies where misinformation was presented to participants by researchers. The misinformation had to be related to real-world information (i.e., not simple eyewitness misinformation effects), and the researchers had to measure participants’ response to the misinformation as a primary outcome. As expected, we found an increase in misinformation research over time, from just three studies matching our criteria in 2016 to 312 published in 2021. As the number of studies has grown, so too has the range of topics covered. The three studies published in 2016 all assessed political misinformation, but by 2021, just 35% of studies addressed this issue, while the remainder examined other topics, including climate change, vaccines, nutrition, immigration, and more. COVID-19 became a huge focus for misinformation researchers in late 2020, and our review includes over 200 studies that used COVID-related materials. Below we discuss some implications and recommendations for the field based on our findings.

Call for increased diversity & ecological validity

It has been previously noted that the evidence base for understanding misinformation is skewed by pragmatic decisions affecting the topics that researchers choose to study. For example, Altay and colleagues (2023) argue that misinformation researchers typically focus on social media because it is methodologically convenient, and that this can give rise to the false impression that misinformation is a new phenomenon or one solely confined to the internet. Our findings highlight many other methodological conveniences that affect our understanding of misinformation relating to samples, materials, and experimental design. 

Our findings clearly show that certain populations and types of misinformation are well-represented in the literature. In particular, the majority of studies (78%) drew on samples from the United States or Europe. Though the spread of misinformation is widely recognised as a global phenomenon (Lazer, 2018), countries outside the United States and Europe are underrepresented in misinformation research. We recommend more diverse samples for future studies, as well as studies that assess interventions across multiple countries at once (e.g., Porter & Wood, 2021). Before taking action, policymakers should take note of whether claims regarding the spread of misinformation or the effectiveness of particular interventions have been tested in their jurisdictions and consider whether effects are likely to generalise to other contexts.  

There are growing concerns about large-scale disinformation campaigns and how they may threaten democracies (Nagasko, 2020; Tenove, 2020). For example, research has documented elaborate Russian disinformation campaigns reaching individuals via multiple platforms, delivery methods, and media formats (Erlich & Garner, 2023; Wilson & Starbird, 2020). Our review of the misinformation literature suggests that most studies don’t evaluate conditions that are relevant to these disinformation campaigns. Most studies present misinformation in a very brief format, comprising a single presentation of simple text. Moreover, most studies do not include a delay between presentation and measurement of the outcome. This may be due to ethical concerns, which are, of course, of crucial importance when conducting misinformation research (Greene et al., 2022). Nevertheless, this has implications for policymakers, who may draw on research that does not resemble the real-world conditions in which disinformation campaigns are likely to play out. For example, there is evidence to suggest that repeated exposure can increase the potency of misinformation (Fazio et al., 2022; Pennycook et al., 2018), and some studies have found evidence of misinformation effects strengthening over time (Murphy et al., 2021). These variables are typically studied in isolation, and we,therefore, have an incomplete understanding of how they might interact in large-scale campaigns in the real world. This means that policymakers may make assumptions about which messages are likely to influence citizens based on one or two variables—for example, a news story’s source or the political congeniality of its content—without considering the impact of other potentially interacting variables, such as the delay between information exposure and the target action (e.g., voting in an election) or the number of times an individual is likely to have seen the message. In sum, we would recommend a greater focus on ecologically valid methods to assess misinformation that is presented in multiple formats, across multiple platforms, on repeated occasions, and over a longer time interval. We also encourage future research that is responsive to public and policy-maker concerns with regard to misinformation. For example, a misinformation-related topic that is frequently covered in news media is the looming threat of deepfake technology and the dystopian future it may herald (Broinowski, 2022). However, deepfakes were very rarely examined in the studies we reviewed (nine studies in total). 

Our review contributes to a growing debate as to how we should measure the effectiveness of misinformation interventions. Some have argued that measuring discernment (the ability to distinguish true from false information) is key (Guay et al., 2023). For example, in assessing whether an intervention is effective, we should consider the effects of the intervention on belief in fake news (as most studies naturally do) but also consider effects on belief in  true  news—that is, news items that accurately describe true events. This reflects the idea that while believing and sharing misinformation can lead to obvious dangers, not believing or not sharing true information may also be costly. Interventions that encourage skepticism towards media and news sources might cause substantial harm if they undercut trust in real news, particularly as true news is so much more prevalent than fake news (Acerbi et al., 2022). In our review, less than half of the included studies presented participants with both true and false information. Of those that did present true information, just 15% reported a measure of discernment (7% of all included studies), though there was some indication that this outcome measure has been more commonly reported in recent years. We recommend that future studies consider including both true items and a measure of discernment, particularly when assessing susceptibility to fake news or evaluating an intervention. Furthermore, policymakers should consider the possibility of unintended consequences if interventions aiming to reduce belief in misinformation are employed without due consideration of their effects on trust in news more generally.   

Is misinformation likely to change our behaviour?

 Many of our most pressing social concerns related to misinformation centre on the possibility of false information inciting behaviour change—for example, that political misinformation might have a causal effect on how we decide to vote, or that health misinformation might have a causal effect in refusal of vaccination or treatment. In the current review, we found the most common outcome measure was belief in misinformation (78% of studies), followed by attitudes towards the target of the misinformation (18% of studies). While it is, of course, of interest to examine how misinformation can change beliefs and attitudes, decades of research have shown that information provision is often ineffective at meaningfully changing attitudes (Albarracin & Shavitt, 2018) and even where such an intervention is successful, attitude change is not always sufficient to induce behavioural change (Verplanken & Orbell, 2022). 

When assessing whether misinformation can affect behaviour, previous research has reported mixed results. Loomba et al. (2021) found that exposure to COVID vaccine misinformation reduced intentions to get vaccinated, but other studies have reported null or inconsistent effects (Aftab & Murphy, 2022; de Saint Laurent et al., 2022; Greene & Murphy, 2021; Guess et al., 2020). The current review highlights the small number of studies that have examined offline behavioural intentions (10% of papers reviewed) or offline behaviour itself (< 1% of studies) as an outcome of misinformation exposure. Our findings reveal a mismatch between the stated goals and methodology of research, where many papers conceive of misinformation as a substantial problem and may cite behavioural outcomes (such as vaccine refusal) as the driver of this concern, but the studies instead measure belief. We acknowledge that studying real-world effects of misinformation presents some significant challenges, both practical (we cannot follow people into the voting booth or doctor’s office) and ethical (e.g., if experimental presentation of misinformation has the potential to cause real-world harm to participants or society). Moreover, it can be exceptionally difficult to identify causal links between information exposure and complex behaviours such as voting (Aral & Eckles, 2019). Nevertheless, we recommend that where researchers have an interest in behaviour change, they should endeavour to measure that as part of their study. Where a study has only measured beliefs, attitudes, or sharing intentions, we should refrain from drawing conclusions with regard to behaviour. 

From a policy perspective, those who are concerned about misinformation, such as governments and social media companies, ought to clearly specify whether these concerns relate to beliefs or behaviour, or both. Behaviour change is not the only negative outcome that may result from exposure to misinformation—confusion and distrust in news sources are also significant outcomes that many policymakers may wish to address. We recommend that policymakers reflect on the specific outcomes they hope to influence and consider whether extant evidence indicates that their efforts are likely to be successful. For example, if the goal is to reduce belief in or sharing of misinformation, there may be ample evidence to support a particular plan of action. On the other hand, if the goal is to affect a real-world behaviour such as vaccine uptake, our review suggests that the jury is still out. Policymakers may, therefore, be best advised to lend their support to new research aiming to explicitly address the question of behaviour change in response to misinformation. Specifically, we suggest that funding should be made available by national and international funding bodies to directly evaluate the impacts of misinformation in the real world. 

Finding 1: Studies assessing the effects of misinformation on behaviour are rare.

As shown in Table 1, the most commonly recorded outcome by far was belief in the misinformation presented (78% of studies), followed by attitudes (18.31%). Online behavioural intentions, like intention to share (18.05%) or intention to like or comment on a social media post (5.01%), were more commonly measured than offline behavioural intentions (10.94%), like planning to get vaccinated. A tiny proportion of studies (1.58%) measured actual behaviour and how it may change as a result of misinformation exposure. Even then, just one study (0.13%) assessed real-world behaviour—speed of tapping keys in a lab experiment (Bastick, 2021)—all other studies assessed online behaviour such as sharing of news articles or liking social media posts. Thus, no studies in this review assessed the kind of real-world behaviour targeted by misinformation, such as vaccine uptake or voting behaviour.

research papers on the biotechnology

Finding 2: Studies in this field  overwhelmingly use short, text-based misinformation. 

The most common format for presenting misinformation was text only (62.71% of included studies), followed by text accompanied by an image (32.41%). Use of other formats was rare; video only (1.84%), text and video (1.32%), images only (< 1%), and audio only (< 1%). 

Of the studies that used textual formats (with or without additional accompanying media), the majority (62.72%) presented between one and two sentences of text. An additional 17.50% presented misinformation in a longer paragraph (more than two sentences), 12.92% presented a page or more, and 6.86% did not specify the length of misinformation text presented.

The most frequent framing for the misinformation presented was news stories (44.27%), misinformation presented with no context (33.47%), and Facebook posts (16.47%). Other less frequent misinformation framing included Twitter posts (7.64%), other social media posts (8.04%), other types of webpages (2.11%), fact checks of news stories (1.58%), and government and public communications (0.26%). 

Very few studies presented doctored media to participants; a small number (1.19%) presented deepfake videos and 1.05% presented other forms of doctored media.

Fin ding 3: Most studies assess outcomes instantly. 

Fewer than 7% of studies reported any delay between exposure to the misinformation and the measurement of outcome ( n  = 52). While many did not specify exactly how long the delay was ( n  = 30), most were less than a week; 1–2 minutes ( n  = 4), 5–10 minutes ( n  = 4), 1 day–1 week ( n  = 13), 3 weeks ( n  = 1) and 1–6 months ( n  = 2).

Finding 4: Most participants were from the USA or Europe. 

The majority of participants sampled were from the United States (49.93%), followed by Europe (28.19%) (see Table 2). All other regions each accounted for 6% or less of the total number of participants sampled, such as East Asia (5.53%), Africa (5.27%) and the Middle East (4.74%). Furthermore, 102 studies (13.26%) did not specify from where they sampled participants.

Finding 5: COVID-19 became a major focus of misinformation research. 

Political misinformation was the most commonly studied topic until 2021, when COVID-related misinformation research became the dominant focus of the field (see Table 3 for a full breakdown of the topics included in the selected studies). Overall, experimental misinformation research is on the rise. Our review included one paper from 2016, 12 papers from 2017, 18 papers from 2018, 48 papers from 2019, 123 papers from 2020, 231 papers from 2021, and 122 papers for the first half of 2022. 

Finding 6: Most studies do not report discernment between true and false misinformation.

In total, 340 studies (45.12%) presented participants with both true and false information. Of these studies, 52 (15.29%) reported a measure of discernment based on participants’ ability to discriminate between true and false information (e.g., the difference in standardised sharing intention scores between true and false items). Across the entire review then, fewer than 7% of studies report discernment between true and false information as an outcome. There was some indication that measurement of discernment is becoming more common over time; no studies included in the review reported a measure of discernment prior to 2019, and 48 out of the 52 studies that did measure discernment were published between 2020 and 2022.

A search was conducted to identify studies that presented participants with misinformation and measured their responses (e.g., belief in misinformation) after participants were exposed to misinformation. All studies must have been published since January 2016, with an English-language version available in a peer-reviewed journal. The final search for relevant records was carried out on the 16th of July, 2022. Searches were carried out in three databases (Scopus, Web of Science, and PsychINFO) using the search terms “misinformation” OR “fake news” OR “disinformation” OR “fabricated news” OR “false news.” The search strategy, inclusion criteria, and extraction templates were preregistered at . 

Inclusion criteria

There were two primary criteria for inclusion in the current scoping review. A study was eligible for inclusion if it (i) presented participants with misinformation with any potential for real-world consequences and (ii) measured participants’ responses to this misinformation (e.g., belief in the misinformation, intentions to share the misinformation) as a main outcome. 

Exclusion criteria

Studies were excluded if they presented participants with misinformation of no real-world consequence (e.g., misinformation about a simulated crime, fabricated stories about fictitious plane crashes, misinformation about fictional persons that were introduced during the course of an experiment). If the misinformation was only relevant within the narrow confines of an experiment, we considered the paper ineligible. Furthermore, studies were excluded if they presented participants with general knowledge statements (e.g., trivia statements) or if they presented participants with misleading claims that were not clearly inaccurate (e.g., a general exaggeration of the benefits of a treatment). Studies were also excluded if the misinformation was only presented in the context of a debunking message, as were studies where the misinformation was presented as a hypothetical statement (e.g., “imagine if we told you that …”, “how many people do you think believe that…”). Studies of eyewitness memory were excluded, as were any studies not published in English. Finally, opinion pieces, commentaries, systematic reviews, or observational studies were excluded.

Originally, only experimental studies were to be included in the review. However, upon screening the studies, it became apparent that distinguishing between experiments, surveys, and intervention-based research was sometimes difficult—for example, cross-sectional studies exploring individual differences in fake news susceptibility might not be classified as true experiments (as they lack control groups and measure outcomes at only one time point), but they were clearly relevant to our aims. To avoid arbitrary decisions, we decided to drop this requirement and instead included all articles that met the inclusion criteria.

Screening and selection process

The search strategy yielded a total of 18,333 records (see Figure 2 for a summary of the screening process). Curious readers may note that a Google Scholar search for the search terms listed above produces a substantially different number of hits, though the number will vary from search to search. This lack of reproducibility in Google Scholar searches is one of many reasons why Google Scholar is not recommended for use in systematic reviews, and the three databases employed here are preferred (Gusenbauer & Haddaway, 2020; also see Boeker et al., 2013; Bramer et al., 2016). Following the removal of duplicates ( n  = 9,864), a total of 8,469 records were eligible to be screened. The titles and abstracts of the 8,469 eligible records were screened by six reviewers, in pairs of two, with a seventh reviewer resolving conflicts where they arose (weighted Cohen’s κ = 0.81). A total of 7,666 records were removed at this stage, as the records did not meet the criteria of the scoping review. 

The full texts of the remaining 803 records were then screened by four reviewers in pairs of two, with conflicts resolved by discussion among the pair with the conflict (weighted Cohen’s κ = 0.68). Among the 803 records, 248 records were excluded (see Figure 2 for reasons for exclusion). Thus, there were 555 papers included for extraction, with a total of 759 studies included therein. An alphabetical list of all included articles is provided in the Appendix, and the full data file listing all included studies and their labels is available at .

research papers on the biotechnology

  • / Psychology

Cite this Essay

Murphy, G., de Saint Laurent, C., Reynolds, M., Aftab, O., Hegarty, K. Sun, Y. & Greene, C. M. (2023). What do we study when we study misinformation? A scoping review of experimental research (2016-2022). Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) Misinformation Review . ttps://


Acerbi, A., Altay, S., & Mercier, H. (2022). Fighting misinformation or fighting for information?. Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) Misinformation Review, 3 (1).

Aftab, O., & Murphy, G. (2022). A single exposure to cancer misinformation may not significantly affect related behavioural intentions. HRB Open Research, 5 (82), 82.

Albarracin, D., & Shavitt, S. (2018). Attitudes and attitude change. Annual Review of Psychology, 69 , 299–327.

Altay, S., Berriche, M., & Acerbi, A. (2023). Misinformation on misinformation: Conceptual and methodological challenges.  Social Media+ Society ,  9 (1), 20563051221150412.

Aral, S., & Eckles, D. (2019). Protecting elections from social media manipulation. Science , 365 (6456), 858–861.

Bastick, Z. (2021). Would you notice if fake news changed your behavior? An experiment on the unconscious effects of disinformation.  Computers in Human Behavior ,  116 , 106633.

Bramer, W. M., Giustini, D., & Kramer, B. M. R. (2016). Comparing the coverage, recall, and precision of searches for 120 systematic reviews in Embase, MEDLINE, and Google Scholar: A prospective study. Systematic Reviews , 5 (1), 39.

Boeker, M., Vach, W., & Motschall, E. (2013). Google Scholar as replacement for systematic literature searches: good relative recall and precision are not enough. BMC Medical Research Methodology , 13 (1), 131.

Broinowski, A. (2022). Deepfake nightmares, synthetic dreams: A review of dystopian and utopian discourses around deepfakes, and why the collapse of reality may not be imminent—yet.  Journal of Asia-Pacific Pop Culture ,  7 (1), 109–139.

Camargo, C. Q., & Simon, F. M. (2022). Mis- and disinformation studies are too big to fail: Six suggestions for the field’s future. Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) Misinformation Review , 3 (5).

de Saint Laurent, C., Murphy, G., Hegarty, K., & Greene, C. M. (2022). Measuring the effects of misinformation exposure and beliefs on behavioural intentions: A COVID-19 vaccination study. Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications , 7 (1), 87.

Erlich, A., & Garner, C. (2023). Is pro-Kremlin disinformation effective? Evidence from Ukraine. The International Journal of Press/Politics , 28( 1), 5–28.

Fazio, L. K., Pillai, R. M., & Patel, D. (2022). The effects of repetition on belief in naturalistic settings.  Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 151 (10), 2604–2613.

Greene, C. M., de Saint Laurent, C., Murphy, G., Prike, T., Hegarty, K., & Ecker, U. K. (2022). Best practices for ethical conduct of misinformation research: A scoping review and critical commentary. European Psychologist, 28 (3), 139–150.

Greene, C. M., & Murphy, G. (2021). Quantifying the effects of fake news on behavior: Evidence from a study of COVID-19 misinformation. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied , 27 (4), 773–784.

Guay, B., Berinsky, A. J., Pennycook, G., & Rand, D. (2023). How to think about whether misinformation interventions work. Nature Human Behaviour, 7 , 1231–1233.

Guess, A. M., Lockett, D., Lyons, B., Montgomery, J. M., Nyhan, B., & Reifler, J. (2020). “Fake news” may have limited effects beyond increasing beliefs in false claims. Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) Misinformation Review , 1 (1).

Gusenbauer, M., & Haddaway, N. R. (2020). Which academic search systems are suitable for systematic reviews or meta-analyses? Evaluating retrieval qualities of Google Scholar, PubMed, and 26 other resources. Research Synthesis Methods , 11 (2), 181–217.

Loomba, S., de Figueiredo, A., Piatek, S. J., de Graaf, K., & Larson, H. J. (2021). Measuring the impact of COVID-19 vaccine misinformation on vaccination intent in the UK and USA. Nature Human Behaviour , 5 (3), 337–348.

Munn, Z., Peters, M. D., Stern, C., Tufanaru, C., McArthur, A., & Aromataris, E. (2018). Systematic review or scoping review? Guidance for authors when choosing between a systematic or scoping review approach. BMC Medical Research Methodology , 18 .

Murphy, G., Lynch, L., Loftus, E., & Egan, R. (2021). Push polls increase false memories for fake new stories.  Memory ,  29 (6), 693–707.

Nagasako, T. (2020). Global disinformation campaigns and legal challenges. International Cybersecurity Law Review, 1 (1–2), 125–136.

Lazer, D. M. J., Baum, M. A., Benkler, Y., Berinsky, A. J., Greenhill, K. M., Menczer, F., Metzger, M. J., Nyhan, B., Pennycook, G., Rothschild, D., Schudson, M., Sloman, S. A., Sunstein, C. R., Thorson, E. A., Watts, D. J., & Zittrain, J. L. (2018). The science of fake news. Science , 359 (6380), 1094-1096.

Pennycook, G., Cannon, T. D., & Rand, D. G. (2018). Prior exposure increases perceived accuracy of fake news.  Journal of Experimental Psychology: General ,  147 (12), 1865–1880.

Porter, E., & Wood, T. J. (2021). The global effectiveness of fact-checking: Evidence from simultaneous experiments in Argentina, Nigeria, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences , 118 (37), e2104235118.

Tenove, C. (2020). Protecting democracy from disinformation: Normative threats and policy responses. The International Journal of Press/Politics , 25 (3), 517–537.

Verplanken, B., & Orbell, S. (2022). Attitudes, habits, and behavior change. Annual Review of Psychology , 73 , 327–352.

Wilson, T., & Starbird, K. (2020). Cross-platform disinformation campaigns: lessons learned and next steps. Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) Misinformation Review , 1 (1) .

This project was funded by the Health Research Board of Ireland – COV19-2020-030. The funding body had no role in the design, interpretation, or reporting of the research.

Competing Interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

This review protocol was exempt from ethics approval.

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided that the original author and source are properly credited.

Data Availability

All materials needed to replicate this study are available via the Harvard Dataverse at and OSF at .

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The best AI tools for writing a research paper

man studying in cafe on laptop

Research papers may be the most dreaded of academic assignments, even before you hit the Master’s or PhD level, never mind your post-grad career. Thankfully there are now a number of generative AI tools that can speed up research writing, and we’ve gathered some of the better ones into a handy list.

While you’ll see some familiar names on here, it’s worth reminding everyone that in an academic environment, AI can potentially be a minefield. Some uses of it are considered cheating or otherwise unethical, especially if you plagiarize content. When that worry is eliminated, you still need to doublecheck the style, grammar, facts, and/or sources of any AI output.


Grammarly for Chrome

Grammarly’s main purpose is of course correcting spelling, grammar, and punctuation. But it can also recommend changes to the tone or formality of your language, and most importantly for research papers, there’s a beta citation generator. That feature supports APA, MLA, and Chicago styles, so as a student at least, you should be covered.

Note that while there’s a free version of Grammarly, you’ll need to upgrade to a Premium plan to get things like full-sentence rewrites, formatting help, and plagiarism detection. The upgraded version can even help with English fluency if that’s a second language and you’re not used to cultural conventions. Premium further bumps up the number of AI prompts you can use from 100 per month to 1,000.


This tool focuses exclusively on paper discovery. On top of enabling manual searches and a personal library, though, it can also recommend related papers and authors, and update you on the latest material connected to your research. If you like, you can collaborate with others, or check out a visual map of a paper’s links.

The best part is that ResearchRabbit is entirely supported by donations, so if you’re a struggling grad student, there’s no need to pay for the convenience. Go ahead and save your cash for food, rent, and student loans.


Scholarcy promises to do the hard part with a lot of outside source material — summarize it so you get the gist. The tool is said to work with books and papers alike, and extract vital information such as findings, limitations, and data analyses. The result is a flashcard, but with links to sources, and the ability to choose what appears. If you need the tables from scientific papers, for instance, you can force Scholarcy to include them.

An extension for Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge supports open repositories like arXiv and biorXiv. In fact you can use this for free, though you’re limited to small- to medium-sized documents, and you’ll need to sign up for a subscription if you want to save summaries to your Scholarcy Library. A subscription also gets you sharing, annotation, and export options, as well as the ability to import from Dropbox, Google Drive, or custom RSS feeds.


While Scite might in some ways serve same purpose as ResearchRabbit — hunting down papers — it goes a lot further. You can ask it general knowledge questions and get answers with cited sources, or doublecheck the sources for claims you’ve read elsewhere, such as ChatGPT . When searching for material, you can apply numerous filters including authorship, institutional affiliation, or how many citations mention, support, or contrast a particular paper.

You can even check how often your own material is being cited, or get aggregate insights and notifications based on your collections. It’s serious stuff, and once your trial period expires, you’ll need to pay $144 per year or $20 per month unless you’re lucky enough to fall under a university or corporate plan.


If Scite can be considered a step up from ResearchRabbit, the same might be said about Trinka versus Grammarly. Trinka is specifically aimed at fixing academic and technical writing, including style, grammar, and jargon issues. It’s based on the APA and AMA style guides, and it always aims for a formal tone. 

There’s a host of additional features here, including paraphrasing, citation and plagiarism checking, and analysis to find an ideal journal to publish in. Plug-ins are available for Chrome, Edge, Firefox, and Microsoft Word. A Safari plug-in is promised sometime in the future.

If all you want is small-scale help with grammar, paraphrasing, and plagiarism, there’s a free version of Trinka which supports Chrome, Edge, and Firefox. You’ll need to upgrade to a paid plan, however, if you want to lift usage caps and take advantage of Word integration.

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Room-Temperature Superconductor Discovery Is Retracted

It was the second paper led by Ranga P. Dias, a researcher at the University of Rochester, that the journal Nature has retracted.

Ranga Dias stands with his arms folded in front of a blackboard, which is covered in various diagrams and formulas written in colored chalk. He wears a blue sweater over a collared shirt.

By Kenneth Chang

Nature, one of the most prestigious journals in scientific publishing, on Tuesday retracted a high-profile paper it had published in March that claimed the discovery of a superconductor that worked at everyday temperatures.

It was the second superconductor paper involving Ranga P. Dias, a professor of mechanical engineering and physics at the University of Rochester in New York State, to be retracted by the journal in just over a year. It joined an unrelated paper retracted by another journal in which Dr. Dias was a key author.

Dr. Dias and his colleagues’ research is the latest in a long list of claims of room-temperature superconductors that have failed to pan out. But the retraction raised uncomfortable questions for Nature about why the journal’s editors publicized the research after they had already scrutinized and retracted an earlier paper from the same group.

A spokesman for Dr. Dias said that the scientist denied allegations of research misconduct. “Professor Dias intends to resubmit the scientific paper to a journal with a more independent editorial process,” the representative said.

First discovered in 1911, superconductors can seem almost magical — they conduct electricity without resistance. However, no known materials are superconductors in everyday conditions. Most require ultracold temperatures, and recent advances toward superconductors that function at higher temperatures require crushing pressures.

A superconductor that works at everyday temperatures and pressures could find use in M.R.I. scanners, novel electronic devices and levitating trains.

Superconductors unexpectedly became a viral topic on social networks over the summer when a different group of scientists, in South Korea, also claimed to have discovered a room-temperature superconductor, named LK-99. Within a couple of weeks, the excitement died away after other scientists were unable to confirm the superconductivity observations and came up with plausible alternative explanations.

Even though it was published in a high-profile journal, Dr. Dias’s claim of a room-temperature superconductor did not set off euphoria like LK-99 did because many scientists in the field already regarded his work with doubt.

In the Nature paper published in March, Dr. Dias and his colleagues reported that they had discovered a material — lutetium hydride with some nitrogen added — that was able to superconduct electricity at temperatures of up to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. It still required pressure of 145,000 pounds per square inch, which is not difficult to apply in a laboratory. The material took on a red hue when squeezed, leading Dr. Dias to nickname it “reddmatter” after a substance in a “Star Trek” movie .

Less than three years earlier, Nature published a paper from Dr. Dias and many of the same scientists. It described a different material that they said was also a superconductor although only at crushing pressures of nearly 40 million pounds per square inch. But other researchers questioned some of the data in the paper. After an investigation, Nature agreed, retracting the paper in September 2022 over the objections of the authors.

In August of this year, the journal Physical Review Letters retracted a 2021 paper by Dr. Dias that described intriguing electrical properties, although not superconductivity, in another chemical compound, manganese sulfide.

James Hamlin, a professor of physics at the University of Florida, told Physical Review Letters’ editors that the curves in one of the paper’s figures describing electrical resistance in manganese sulfide looked similar to graphs in Dr. Dias’s doctoral thesis that described the behavior of a different material.

Outside experts enlisted by the journal agreed that the data looked suspiciously similar, and the paper was retracted . Unlike the earlier Nature retraction, all nine of Dr. Dias’s co-authors agreed to the retraction. Dr. Dias was the lone holdout and maintained that the paper accurately portrayed the research findings.

In May, Dr. Hamlin and Brad J. Ramshaw, a professor of physics at Cornell University, sent editors at Nature their concerns about the lutetium hydride data in the March paper.

After the retraction by Physical Review Letters, most of the authors of the lutetium hydride paper concluded that the research from their paper was flawed too.

In a letter dated Sept. 8, eight of the 11 authors asked for the Nature paper to be retracted .

“Dr. Dias has not acted in good faith in regard to the preparation and submission of the manuscript,” they told the Nature editors.

The writers of the letter included five recent graduate students who worked in Dr. Dias’s lab, as well as Ashkan Salamat, a professor of physics at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, who collaborated with Dr. Dias on the two earlier retracted papers. Dr. Dias and Dr. Salamat founded Unearthly Materials, a company that was meant to turn the superconducting discoveries into commercial products.

Dr. Salamat, who was the company’s president and chief executive, is no longer an employee there. He did not respond to a request for comment on the retraction.

In the retraction notice published on Tuesday, Nature said that the eight authors who wrote the letter in September expressed the view that “the published paper does not accurately reflect the provenance of the investigated materials, the experimental measurements undertaken and the data-processing protocols applied.”

The issues, those authors said, “undermine the integrity of the published paper.”

Dr. Dias and two other authors, former students of his, “have not stated whether they agree or disagree with this retraction,” the notice said. A Nature spokeswoman said they did not respond to the proposed retraction.

“This has been a deeply frustrating situation,” Karl Ziemelis, the chief editor for applied and physical sciences at Nature, said in a statement.

Mr. Ziemelis defended the journal’s handling of the paper. “Indeed, as is so often the case, the highly qualified expert reviewers we selected raised a number of questions about the original submission, which were largely resolved in later revisions,” he said. “This is how peer review works.”

He added, “What the peer-review process cannot detect is whether the paper as written accurately reflects the research as it was undertaken.”

For Dr. Ramshaw, the retraction provided validation. “When you are looking into someone else’s work, you always wonder whether you are just seeing things or overinterpreting,” he said.

The disappointments of LK-99 and Dr. Dias’s claims may not deter other scientists from investigating possible superconductors. Two decades ago, a scientist at Bell Labs, J. Hendrik Schön, published a series of striking findings, including novel superconductors. Investigations showed that he had made up most of his data.

That did not stymie later major superconductor discoveries. In 2014, a group led by Mikhail Eremets, of the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Germany, showed that hydrogen-containing compounds are superconductors at surprisingly warm temperatures when squeezed under ultrahigh pressures. Those findings are still broadly accepted.

Russell J. Hemley, a professor of physics and chemistry at the University of Illinois Chicago who followed up Dr. Eremets’s work with experiments that found another material that was also a superconductor at ultrahigh pressure conditions, continues to believe Dr. Dias’s lutetium hydride findings. In June, Dr. Hemley and his collaborators reported that they had also measured the apparent vanishing of electrical resistance in a sample that Dr. Dias had provided, and on Tuesday, Dr. Hemley said he remained confident that the findings would be reproduced by other scientists.

After the Physical Review Letters retraction, the University of Rochester confirmed that it had started a “comprehensive investigation” by experts not affiliated with the school. A university spokeswoman said that it had no plans to make the findings of the investigation public.

The University of Rochester has removed YouTube videos it produced in March that featured university officials lauding Dr. Dias’s research as a breakthrough.

Kenneth Chang has been at The Times since 2000, writing about physics, geology, chemistry, and the planets. Before becoming a science writer, he was a graduate student whose research involved the control of chaos. More about Kenneth Chang

UH Researchers Suggest Hydrogen Fuel Can be a Competitive Alternative to Gasoline and Diesel Today

Houston Offers Advantages for Hydrogen Suppliers

By Rashda Khan — 713-743-7587

  • Science, Energy and Innovation

As the world strives to cut greenhouse gas emissions and find sustainable transportation solutions, University of Houston energy researchers suggest that hydrogen fuel can potentially be a cost-competitive and environmentally friendly alternative to traditional liquid fuels, and that supplying hydrogen for transportation in the greater Houston area can be profitable today.


A white paper titled " Competitive Pricing of Hydrogen as an Economic Alternative to Gasoline and Diesel for the Houston Transportation Sector " examines the promise for the potential of hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector. More than 230 million metric tons of carbon dioxide gas are released each year by the transportation sector in Texas.

Traditional liquid transportation fuels like gasoline and diesel are preferred because of their higher energy density. Unlike vehicles using gasoline, which releases harmful carbon dioxide, and diesel – which contributes to harmful ground-level ozone, fuel cell electric vehicles refuel with hydrogen in five minutes and produce zero emissions.

According to the Texas Department of Transportation, Houston had approximately 5.5 million registered vehicles in the fiscal year 2022. Imagine if all these vehicles were using hydrogen for fuel.

Houston, home to many hydrogen plants for industrial use, offers several advantages, according to the researchers.

“It has more than sufficient water and commercial filtering systems to support hydrogen generation,” the study states. “Add to that the existing natural gas pipeline infrastructure, which makes hydrogen production and supply more cost effective and makes Houston ideal for transitioning from traditional vehicles to hydrogen-powered ones.”

Co-authors of the paper are Christine Ehlig-Economides, professor and Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished University Chair at UH; Paulo Liu, research associate in the Department of Petroleum Engineering at UH; and Alexander Economides, a UH alumnus and co-founder and chief executive officer of Kiribex Inc., a global carbon-credit issuance service and marketplace that specializes in the monetization of carbon credits derived from industrial and agricultural carbon-dioxide capture, storage, and utilization-related efforts.

The study compares three hydrogen generation processes: steam methane reforming (SMR), SMR with carbon capture (SMRCC), and electrolysis using grid electricity and water. The researchers used the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)’s H2A tools to provide cost estimates for these pathways, and the Hydrogen Delivery Scenario Analysis Model (HDSAM) developed by Argonne National Laboratory to generate the delivery model and costs.

Additionally, it compares the cost of grid hydrogen with SMRCC hydrogen, showing that without tax credit incentive SMRCC hydrogen can be supplied at a lower cost of $6.10 per kg hydrogen at the pump, which makes it competitive.

"This research underscores the transformative potential of hydrogen in the transportation sector,” Ehlig-Economides said. “Our findings indicate that hydrogen can be a cost-competitive and environmentally responsible choice for consumers, businesses, and policymakers in the greater Houston area."

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November 08, 2023

Approval of Prop 5 Creates ‘Transformational’ New Funding for University of Houston

In a defining moment for the University of Houston, Texas voters have approved Proposition 5 to establish a $3.9 billion endowment, the Texas University Fund (TUF), to position UH and three other Texas universities at the national forefront of academic excellence and research preeminence.

  • University and Campus

November 06, 2023

A Cutting-Edge Approach to Tackling Pollution in Houston and Beyond

A University of Houston research team is integrating the power of machine learning (ML) with innovative analysis techniques to pinpoint the city’s air pollution sources more accurately. The study provides important insights and advances that will help design effective pollution-fighting strategies unique to different areas.

November 02, 2023

UH Study Finds Constraints Causing Significant Post-Pandemic Stress for Hospitality Job Seekers

Researchers at the University of Houston Conrad N. Hilton College of Global Hospitality Leadership say post-pandemic job search and work constraints in the hospitality industry are causing higher stress for job seekers, leading to more turnover and less qualified candidates.

  • Business and Hospitality


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