Technical Standards Framework

Currently, the BBF is charting a technical standards framework that will serve as the driver and promoter of a high-quality, technical-standards process for synthetic biology based on BioBrick™ parts. It is envisaged that the framework will include the following components:

  • Teaching people, facilitation, and management of community
  • Creating a mechanism for deprecation, promotion, and screening of standard biological parts
  • Providing improved and expanded soft coupling to rewards for quality standards
  • Developing a protocol for dealing with property rights around technical standards
  • Recognizing and celebrating participants.

The BBF was formed to reduce the complexity and cost of producing synthetic living organisms by leveraging time-honored engineering principles of abstraction and standardization. This blend of technology and biology makes it easier for scientists and engineers to work together to develop practical solutions for serious problems facing mankind. A global community initiative, the BBF engages young scientists and engineers, is supported by world-leading institutes and consists of an infrastructure with four key components:

One – Physical assembly standard — changing the sequence of DNA; the resulting reference sequence is compatible with one or more assembly standards.

Two – Reference standard — for making measurements. The BBF is doing this for in vivo genetic functions.

Three – Functional composition standard — What makes a nut fit with a bolt? If they fit its physical assembly; if they stick together when you pull, it’s functional composition.

Four – Data exchange formats — The BBF wants a standard exchange of information with regard to biological parts; we want it to be available openly.

If it’s not compatible in all four ways, it is necessary to explicitly state that it is not compatible.

RFC Process

The BioBricks Foundation is available to provide research and development through our BioBrick™ R&D Services. Give us a call at 650-799-9851.

The BioBricks Foundation delivers its BioBrick™ Research and Development in two ways.

  1. First, we do this through technical standards related to measurement of genetic functions inside cells via the BioBricks Foundation’s partnership with BIOFAB. The BIOFAB: International Open Facility Advancing Biotechnology (BIOFAB) was founded in December 2009 as the world’s first biological design-build facility. This professionally staffed public-benefit facility was initiated by a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and is led by bioengineers from UC Berkeley and Stanford University. The BIOFAB is operated in partnership with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), the BioBricks Foundation (BBF), and the Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center (SynBERC).
  2. The second way we deliver our BioBrick™ Research and Development is through our coordination of the BIOFAB’s industrial partners program.

Through its BioBrick™ RFC (Request for Comments) Process, the BioBricks Foundation hosts discussions and editorial work around the development of technical standards. Our BioBrick™ RFC list contains 50+ technical documents to date. Through the BioBrick™ RFC Process, we also host an email discussion list.

An RFC might

  1. propose a standard of some sort (i.e. Tom Knight’s 2003 BioBrick™ physical assembly standard or the Freiburg protein fusion assembly standard)
  2. describe best practices or protocols (i.e. a protocol for assembling two parts)
  3. provide information (i.e. a description of how to design transcriptional terminators)
  4. simply comment, extend, or replace an earlier RFC

RFCs are static documents or digital objects like videos intended to get an idea, proposed standard, or method out to the rest of the community for comment. RFCs are numbered, for ease of referencing, and the numbers are assigned by the BBF.

Instructions for requesting a BBF RFC number, preparing an RFC, and submitting an RFC to the BBF are described in BBF RFC 0.

Blank templates for drafting a BBF RFC are available:

The complete list of all assigned RFC numbers and RFC documents (for those submitted) is listed at