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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. A Proposed Framework for Identifying Potential Biodefense Vulnerabilities Posed by Synthetic Biology: Interim Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24832.
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A PROPOSED FRAMEWORK FOR
IDENTIFYING POTENTIAL BIODEFENSE
VULNERABILITIES POSED BY SYNTHETIC BIOLOGY:
INTERIM REPORT

Committee on Strategies for Identifying and Addressing Biodefense
Vulnerabilities Posed by Synthetic Biology

Board on Chemical Sciences and Technology

Board on Life Sciences

Division on Earth and Life Studies

A Consensus Study Report of

images

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
Washington, DC
www.nap.edu

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. A Proposed Framework for Identifying Potential Biodefense Vulnerabilities Posed by Synthetic Biology: Interim Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24832.
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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, NW Washington, DC 20001

This project was supported by Contract No. HQ0034-16-C-0062 between the National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. Department of Defense. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the view of any organization or agency that provided support for the project.

Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.17226/24832

Copyright 2017 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.

Printed in the United States of America

Suggested citation: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. A Proposed Framework for Identifying Potential Biodefense Vulnerabilities Posed by Synthetic Biology: Interim Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: https://doi.org/10.17226/24832.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. A Proposed Framework for Identifying Potential Biodefense Vulnerabilities Posed by Synthetic Biology: Interim Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24832.
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The National Academy of Sciences was established in 1863 by an Act of Congress, signed by President Lincoln, as a private, nongovernmental institution to advise the nation on issues related to science and technology. Members are elected by their peers for outstanding contributions to research. Dr. Marcia McNutt is president.

The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964 under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences to bring the practices of engineering to advising the nation. Members are elected by their peers for extraordinary contributions to engineering. Dr. C. D. Mote, Jr., is president.

The National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) was established in 1970 under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences to advise the nation on medical and health issues. Members are elected by their peers for distinguished contributions to medicine and health. Dr. Victor J. Dzau is president.

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Learn more about the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine at www.nationalacademies.org.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. A Proposed Framework for Identifying Potential Biodefense Vulnerabilities Posed by Synthetic Biology: Interim Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24832.
×

Image

Consensus Study Reports published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine document the evidence-based consensus on the study’s statement of task by an authoring committee of experts. Reports typically include findings, conclusions, and recommendations based on information gathered by the committee and the committee’s deliberations. Each report has been subjected to a rigorous and independent peer-review process and it represents the position of the National Academies on the statement of task.

Proceedings published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine chronicle the presentations and discussions at a workshop, symposium, or other event convened by the National Academies. The statements and opinions contained in proceedings are those of the participants and are not endorsed by other participants, the planning committee, or the National Academies.

For information about other products and activities of the National Academies, please visit www.nationalacademies.org/about/whatwedo.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. A Proposed Framework for Identifying Potential Biodefense Vulnerabilities Posed by Synthetic Biology: Interim Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24832.
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COMMITTEE ON STRATEGIES FOR IDENTIFYING AND ADDRESSING BIODEFENSE VULNERABILITIES POSED BY SYNTHETIC BIOLOGY

Members

MICHAEL IMPERIALE (Chair), University of Michigan Medical School

PATRICK BOYLE, Ginkgo Bioworks

PETER A. CARR, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory

DOUGLAS DENSMORE, Boston University

DIANE DIEULIIS, National Defense University

ANDREW ELLINGTON, The University of Texas at Austin

GIGI KWIK GRONVALL, Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security

CHARLES HAAS, Drexel University

JOSEPH KANABROCKI, The University of Chicago

KARA MORGAN, Battelle Memorial Institute

KRISTALA JONES PRATHER, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

THOMAS SLEZAK, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

JILL TAYLOR, Wadsworth Center

Staff

MARILEE SHELTON-DAVENPORT, Study Director

KATHERINE BOWMAN, Senior Program Officer

JO HUSBANDS, Scholar/Senior Project Director

JENNA OGILVIE, Research Associate

JARRETT NGUYEN, Senior Program Assistant

Sponsor

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

NOTE: See Section on Disclosure of Conflict of Interest.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. A Proposed Framework for Identifying Potential Biodefense Vulnerabilities Posed by Synthetic Biology: Interim Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24832.
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Acknowledgment of Reviewers

This Consensus Study Report was reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in making each published report as sound as possible and to ensure that it meets the institutional standards for quality, objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process.

We thank the following individuals for their review of this report:

GARY ACKERMAN, University of Maryland

HARVEY BLANCH, University of California, Berkeley

NANCY D. CONNELL, Rutgers University

JAMES DIGGANS, Twist Bioscience

ANITA JONES, University of Virginia

JAY D. KEASLING, University of California, Berkeley

PIERS MILLET, Future of Humanity Institute

KAREN E. NELSON, J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI)

GERALD PARKER, Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences

DAVID WALT, Tufts University

HENRY WILLIS, The RAND Corporation

Although the reviewers listed above provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations of this report nor did they see the final draft before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Michael Ladisch of Purdue University. He was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with the standards of the National Academies and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content rests entirely with the authoring committee and the National Academies.

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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. A Proposed Framework for Identifying Potential Biodefense Vulnerabilities Posed by Synthetic Biology: Interim Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24832.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. A Proposed Framework for Identifying Potential Biodefense Vulnerabilities Posed by Synthetic Biology: Interim Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24832.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. A Proposed Framework for Identifying Potential Biodefense Vulnerabilities Posed by Synthetic Biology: Interim Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24832.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. A Proposed Framework for Identifying Potential Biodefense Vulnerabilities Posed by Synthetic Biology: Interim Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24832.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. A Proposed Framework for Identifying Potential Biodefense Vulnerabilities Posed by Synthetic Biology: Interim Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24832.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. A Proposed Framework for Identifying Potential Biodefense Vulnerabilities Posed by Synthetic Biology: Interim Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24832.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. A Proposed Framework for Identifying Potential Biodefense Vulnerabilities Posed by Synthetic Biology: Interim Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24832.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. A Proposed Framework for Identifying Potential Biodefense Vulnerabilities Posed by Synthetic Biology: Interim Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24832.
×
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Page viii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. A Proposed Framework for Identifying Potential Biodefense Vulnerabilities Posed by Synthetic Biology: Interim Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24832.
×
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Building on an increasingly sophisticated understanding of naturally occurring biological processes, researchers have developed technologies to predictably modify or create organisms or biological components. This research, known collectively as synthetic biology, is being pursued for a variety of purposes, from reducing the burden of disease to improving agricultural yields to remediating pollution. While synthetic biology is being pursued primarily for beneficial and legitimate purposes, it is possible to imagine malicious uses that could threaten human health or military readiness and performance. Making informed decisions about how to address such concerns requires a comprehensive, realistic assessment. To this end, the U.S. Department of Defense, working with other agencies involved in biodefense, asked the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to develop a framework to guide an assessment of the security concerns related to advances in synthetic biology, to assess the level of concern warranted for various advances and identify areas of vulnerability, and to prioritize options to address these vulnerabilities.

This interim report proposes a framework for identifying and prioritizing potential areas of concern associated with synthetic biology—a tool to aid the consideration of concerns related to synthetic biology. The framework describes categories of synthetic biology technologies and applications—such as genome editing, directed evolution, and automated biological design—and provides a set of initial questions to guide the assessment of concern related to these technologies and applications.

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