The New York TimesThe New York Times

How Biology is Getting a Technological Makeover

By Steve Lohr

16 Sep 2021 · 5 min read

Two white-coated lab technicians, seated at workstations in a corner, are vastly outnumbered by the machines. Robotic arms calibrate liquids in microdrops. Small trays, with 96 tiny wells each, shuttle around the lab on magnetic tracks. Centrifuges whir. Gene sequencers hum.

The highly mechanized lab — operated by Ginkgo Bioworks, a fast-growing startup in Boston — is an engine room of synthetic biology, an emerging field that applies the tools of engineering and computing to make entirely new organisms or genetically turbocharge existing ones.

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