January 13, 2011

Beyond Containment: Asessing, Testing and Demonstrating Safety on Release of SynBio Devices and Chassis

With accelerating technical change in the area of synthetic biology, a proactive rather than reactive stance on risk governance is needed. This project is developing methods to address potential risks before rather than after the fact. It focuses on biosafety beyond containment, in cases where accidental release may be reasonably expected and/or where conventional containment is not an option as in bioremediation, agricultural and biomedical applications.

In this 2011 exercise, participants focused on a biosensor where breach of containment may be expected and on whether the redesign of biological chassis, without reference to specific pathways, may improve biological safety. We hope to consider bioremediation, agricultural and biomedical applications in future years. This work on testing and demonstration for biosafety complements technical work on design of safer chassis by SynBERC Arkin, Church and Knight labs and the larger rE.coli development team.

This event was held in January 2011 in Washington, DC at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. More information on the event can be found here.