Targeting environmental pollution with engineered microbial systems à la carte

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The IHPST staff involved in the project is a group of historians and philosophers, with main interest in the transformations that occur today in scientific disciplines, especially in biology (this group uses to work at the Centre Cavaillès, leadered by Michel Morange).

The rise of synthetic biology and the search for minimal genomes have challenged the traditional scientific and philosophical conceptions of life. Our contribution will consist in characterizing these present transformations, and anticipate their consequences in a near future: will the boundaries between non-living and living systems be redefined? How will the modelling process associated with the development of synthetic biology alter the vision of organisms? What is the place of the present informational vision of life in the future landscape? What form will the articulation between physical and molecular descriptions take?

We hope to be able to address these questions thanks to a narrow collaboration with the other participants in the project, who for most of them are directly involved in deciphering the characteristics of early organisms, and in designing new organisms, adapted to specific biotechnological tasks.

Researchers in IHPST are actively engaged in the study of the transformations of evolutionary theory, the rise of systems biology and synthetic biology, and their philosophical meanings.

Profile of the staff members who will be undertaking the work:

  • Michel Morange is Professor in biology at ENS, Director of the Centre Cavaillès, a member of IHPST, and a specialist in the history of molecular biology. He is in charge of the project.
  • Jean Gayon is Professor at University Paris 1 and a member of IHPST. He is a specialist in the philosophy of evolutionary biology.
  • Anne Fagot-Largeault is Professor at the College de France and a member of IHPST. She is a specialist in the philosophy of biomedical sciences and bioethic issues. She is a member of IHPST.
  • Charles Galperin is an historian of biology and genetics. He is a member of IHPST.
  • Matteo Mossio is a post-doc in IHPST, involved in the place of functional explanations in contemporary biology.
  • Pierre-Alain Braillard and Francesca Merlin are PhD students supervised in common at IHPST by Jean Gayon and Michel Morange. They respectively study the epistemological transformations induced in biology by the rise of systems biology, and the place of contingency in present biological explanations.
  • Christophe Malaterre is preparing at IHPST a PhD on the present theories on the origin of Life (Supervisor: Jean Gayon).
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