2022 Symposium: Synthetic Biology
The Harnessing Transformational Technologies symposium series brings together subject-matter experts to elucidate a specific transformational technology, showcase the opportunities it creates for the global population, explore its ethical, legal, and social implications, preview its future developments, and discuss related issues for national and global security. Our goal is to inform, encourage dialogue, facilitate research opportunities, and convey both the opportunities and risks resulting from transformational technologies. Our symposia are aimed at a diverse population of academics, research scientists, industrialists, governments, policy makers, legal experts, and social scientists. Harnessing Transformational Technologies symposia are co-hosted by the Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Committee on Science, Technology, and Law of the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
Symposium 3: Synthetic Biology
Synthetic biology is a broad, emerging field that encompasses advancements in biology, chemistry, and engineering to create new or altered biological systems that perform novel functions. Redesigning organisms so they can aid in fighting disease, cleaning up pollution, providing nutrition to food insecure regions, etc., holds the promise of a better world. Industry’s embrace of synthetic biology technologies seems inevitable given the economic benefits they offer: therapeutics, controlling diseases, accelerated processes and new products that require fewer natural resources, are less toxic to the environment, and cheaper to develop and operate. But the ability to modify or synthesize entire genomes carries significant ethical, social, environmental, and security implications. How should these technologies be applied and who should monitor and govern their use?
To explore the complex set of questions the field of synthetic biology raises, this symposium brings together six subject-matter experts to talk about gene editing, microorganism design, animal modification, transplantation, national security risks the field presents, and more. Our speakers will provide a broad scientific perspective to facilitate research collaborations and distill the key issues, thereby better informing the decision makers responsible for framing safe and secure laws, regulations, and policies.