The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Office of Congressional and government Affairs
At A Glance
: Biodefense in the Age of Synthetic Biology
Mon, Jun 18, 2018   2125 Rayburn House Office Bldg. – 1:45 p.m.
Mon, Jun 18, 2018   340 Dirksen Senate Office Bldg. – 2:00 p.m.
Mon, Jun 18, 2018   2216 Rayburn House Office Bldg. – 3:30 p.m.
Mon, Jun 18, 2018   430 Dirksen Senate Office Bldg. – 4:45 p.m.
Thu, Sep 20, 2018   423 Dirksen Senate Office Bldg. -- 9:00 a.m.
Tue, Apr 23, 2019   228 Russell Senate Office Bldg. -- 3:30 p.m.


Division on Earth and Life Studies
Board on Chemical Sciences and Technology
Board on Life Sciences
Committee on Strategies for Identifying and Addressing Potential Biodefense Vulnerabilities Posed by Synthetic Biology
Congressional Briefings

Biodefense in the Age of Synthetic Biology
Scientific advances over the past several decades have accelerated the ability to engineer existing organisms and to potentially create novel ones not found in nature. Synthetic biology, which collectively refers to concepts, approaches, and tools that enable the modification or creation of biological organisms, is being pursued overwhelmingly for beneficial purposes ranging from reducing the burden of disease to improving agricultural yields to remediating pollution. Although the contributions synthetic biology can make in these and other areas hold great promise, it is also possible to imagine malicious uses that could threaten U.S. citizens and military personnel. Making informed decisions about how to address such concerns requires a realistic assessment of the capabilities that could be misused.
This new report, from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine explores and envisions potential misuses of synthetic biology. The report develops a framework to guide an assessment of the security concerns related to advances in synthetic biology, assesses the levels of concern warranted for such advances, and identifies options that could help mitigate those concerns.
These briefings were for members of Congress and congressional staff only. The report was publicly released on June 19, 2018 and can be found, in its entirety, on the Web site of the National Academies Press.