Photo of a clinical lab professional loading an mRNA plate into automation platform.
Where accuracy, precision, and reproducibility are the standard, synthetic biology scientists are also turning to automation.
iStock, vitapix

Automating Synthetic Biology’s Future

Automation is fueling the future of synthetic biology

Rajan Kapadia

Rajan Kapadia, VP of global sales and marketing at Integrated DNA Technologies, brings nearly 20 years of life sciences and diagnostics experience to drive innovation and growth for the global...

ViewFull Profile
Published:Jul 11, 2022
|2 min read
Photo portrait of Rajan Kapadia
Rajan Kapadia

Rajan Kapadia, VP of global sales and marketing at Integrated DNA Technologies, brings nearly 20 years of life sciences and diagnostics experience to drive innovation and growth for the global genomics solution provider’s portfolio of applications and workflows that are driving research and medical advancements.


The overall vision of synthetic biology is a powerful one: Engineer the living world to positively impact people and the planet. For more than two decades, synthetic biology’s forward-thinking approaches to challenges and problems have benefited nearly every industry, from food, fabrics, and fuels to industrial chemicals and pharmaceuticals.

By treating living cells as miniature factories, scientists are using novel technologies to genetically engineer biological components and systems to unlock synthetic biology’s promise in a variety of applications spanning biomaterials and drug development. Through rounds of precise experimentation, today’s scientists are striving to find the right balance for gene expression, which requires having specific reactions occur at a specific time and in a specific order.

Automation is at the forefront of synthetic biology

Synthetic biologists are rising to meet the inherent challenges of the natural complexity and stochasticity of living systems. In an environment where accuracy, precision, and reproducibility are the standard, they are also turning to automation. Whereas traditionally manual approaches can be cumbersome, time consuming, and introduce variables that affect budgets and timelines, companies are turning to high-throughput DNA assembly to optimize processes that increase reliability, decrease overall expense, and improve turnaround times.

Now, synthetic biology startups are at the forefront of technological advancement and automation despite facing financial and scientific hurdles. Across the life sciences, the field is seeing unprecedented achievements and setting new expectations. By investing in modularity and automation, synthetic biology companies are able to develop robust and adaptable systems, allowing them to scale their workflows to meet growing market demand.

The benefits of automation for synthetic biology

This is an iterative yet worthwhile process. Building an effective and efficient platform includes rounds of designing, building, and testing, but once established, this enables researchers to focus on experimental design rather than on performing manual tasks such as plating, colony picking, and plasmid prep. These upfront investments have benefits that can help researchers meet their goals, in addition to efficient sample processing and seamless integrations to improve overall costs.

Automation is a critical component of long-term success

Biotech automation also can help companies build more robust platforms that can readily adapt to a changing world. In less than a year, the world was able to build, test, and manufacture mRNA vaccines for SARS-CoV-2, a novel pathogen. This feat was achieved by creating dynamic workflows that helped to meet the demands of a pandemic world. Together, these can help companies achieve commercial success and encourage the development of new programs. Companies looking to develop strategies that incorporate the development of platforms or processes will have a better chance at adapting to these challenges. To meet the advancements in synthetic biology and medicine, automation will be a critical component to ensuring long-term success.