Synthetic biology is the application of engineering principles to biology for the design and reprogramming of cellular systems. It draws upon the fields of biology, chemistry, computer science and engineering to enable the transformation of cellular processes into parts, circuits and pathways that can be designed, built and tested. With this level of design and control over biological systems, synthetic biology provides numerous opportunities for the acceleration of materials research and development. For example, it can be applied to the synthesis and testing of new molecules that cannot be produced by traditional chemical synthesis routes or whose synthesis is cost-prohibitive or not environmentally friendly (e.g., organic monomers with defined stereochemistry or R groups). By controlling the timing of synthesis of various molecular components, it can enable engineering of hierarchically assembled materials such as structural composites and metamaterials. Through a combination of cell types and capabilities, synthetic biological systems can be used to create living, multifunctional materials, such as biofilms that secrete polymers and that respond to environmental cues to change materials properties on demand. The purpose of this Forum is to introduce the MRS Community to the potential of synthetic biology and its ability to transform and accelerate materials research. It will to provide a high-level overview of its capabilities and examples of recent successes by multidisciplinary teams. It will also explore obstacles to success and opportunities for engagement by the materials science community.