© 2018

Stepping Stones to Synthetic Biology


Part of the The Frontiers Collection book series (FRONTCOLL)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xv
  2. Sergio Carrà
    Pages 1-17
  3. Sergio Carrà
    Pages 19-35
  4. Sergio Carrà
    Pages 37-54
  5. Sergio Carrà
    Pages 83-97
  6. Sergio Carrà
    Pages 121-132
  7. Sergio Carrà
    Pages 133-147
  8. Sergio Carrà
    Pages 149-163
  9. Sergio Carrà
    Pages 165-190
  10. Back Matter
    Pages 191-212

About this book


This book explores fascinating topics at the edge of life, guiding the reader all the way from the relation of life processes to the second law of thermodynamics and the abundance of complex organic compounds in the universe through to the latest advances in synthetic biology and metabolic engineering. The background to the book is the extraordinary scientific adventures that are being undertaken as progress is made toward the creation of an artificial cell and the control of life processes. This journey involves input from research areas as diverse as genetic engineering, physical chemistry, and information theory. Life is to be thought of not only as a chemical event but also as an information process, with the genome a repository of information gathered over time through evolution. Knowledge of the mechanisms affecting the increase in complexity associated with evolutionary paths is improving, and there appear to be analogies with the evolution of the technologies promoting the development of our society. The book will be of wide interest to students at all levels and to others with an interest in the subject.


Evolutionary paths Cell imitation in silicon Metabolic engineering Synthetic biology Universe capacity of synthetizing complex organic molecules Cosmochemistry Biomolecules and bioenergetics The origin of life Evolution in nature and in technology

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Chemistry, Materials and Chemical EngineeringPolytechnic UniversityMilanItaly

About the authors

Sergio Carrà is Emeritus Professor of Physical Chemistry in the Department of Chemistry, Materials, and Chemical Engineering “Giulio Natta”, Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy. He has taught at various universities in Italy, as well as at the Theoretical Chemistry Institute of the University of Wisconsin and the Chemical Engineering Department, University of Notre Dame, Indiana. He is a member of the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei and the Academia Europaea. Sergio Carrà won the Antonio Feltrinelli award in 1991, the Mario Giacomo Levi medal in 1997, and the Bonino medal and medal of Scuola Normale Superiore (Pisa) in 1999. He has received honorary degrees from Blaise Pascal University, Clermont-Ferrand (in Physics, 2001) and the University of Genova (in Chemical Engineering, 2015). His research interests include molecular thermodynamics, chemical kinetics, catalysis, simulation of chemical processes, and the modeling of advanced material synthesis, and he has co-authored about 450 papers in peer-reviewed journals. Sergio Carrà has held important positions in cultural and scientific institutions such as CNR, INFM, and SCI and has acted as a consultant for various companies.

Bibliographic information

Industry Sectors
Chemical Manufacturing
Consumer Packaged Goods


“This book presents many of the fundamental problems (both historical and current) in synthetic biology. Each chapter serves as a concise review of one particular problem to be surmounted. … readers with a solid foundation in molecular biology will find much that is fascinating as well. … Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate students and above.” (R. K. Harris, Choice, Vol. 56 (12), August, 2019)