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Meeting Information

Project Title: Strategies for Identifying and Addressing Biodefense Vulnerabilities Posed by Synthetic Biology

PIN: DELS-BCST-16-04         

Major Unit:
Division on Earth and Life Studies

Sub Unit:
Board on Chemical Sciences and Technology
Board on Life Sciences

Shelton-Davenport, Marilee

Subject/Focus Area:
Biology and Life Sciences; Math, Chemistry, and Physics

Biodefense Vulnerabilities Posed by Synthetic Biology- Meeting 3
May 24, 2017 - May 25, 2017
National Academy of Sciences Building
2101 Constitution NW
Washington D.C. 20148

If you would like to attend the sessions of this meeting that are open
to the public or need more information please contact:

Contact Name: Jarrett Nguyen
Phone: 2023343978


Although this is listed as a two day meeting, our open session will take place on the 25th only.

Meeting 3: May 25, 2017

National Academies Building, Room 120
2101 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington DC

Meeting Objectives
• Session 1: DNA Synthesis, Assembly, and Engineering. This panel will identify the level of DNA synthesis and assembly that is achievable with current technology, as well as the edges of what is able to be done. It will identify challenges associated with synthesis, assembly, and using those parts to make a functional whole. It will use a case study to identify potential pitfalls in the current system of monitoring and screening, and will challenge all panelists to identify bottlenecks in their fields. One those bottlenecks are breached, what will become possible? Finally, the panel will identify areas of the field that may present biodefense vulnerabilities or could pose challenges in the future.
• Session 2: Virus Engineering, Transmissibility, and Zoonosis. This panel will interrogate our scientific knowledge/understanding of virus properties that cause harm and the ability to engineer/manipulate/exploit such properties in viruses. The current state of knowledge and capabilities will be described, as will our predicted knowledge and capabilities in 5 years and in the longer term.
• Session 3: Ease of Use. This panel will explore the techniques and approaches that synthetic biology provides that makes the field more accessible to those with less or no formal biology training. This panel will identify how standardized parts lower barriers to entry, what less skilled users are actually capable of, and how these barriers may continue to lower in the future.
• Session 4: Horizon-Scanning and Looking to the Future. This session will look at how the field of synthetic biology is evolving, and especially focus on what will have changed in five years and beyond. As part of this discussion, participants will be asked to consider what types of technological bottlenecks exist, and once breached, what new possibilities for synthetic biology may emerge.

8:00 Registration

8:30 Opening Remarks and Brief Review of Study
Michael Imperiale, Committee Chair
• Welcome to the Workshop
• Study Goals and Objectives
• Plan for the Day

8:45 Orientation to the Committee’s Framework/Approach


9:00 Introduction of Speakers and Goal of Panel
Patrick Boyle, Ginkgo Bioworks (committee member)

9:05 DNA Synthesis and Read Length: What can be done, what can be ordered, and
what challenges exist?
Devin Leake, Ginkgo Bioworks

9:15 DNA Assembly: What is possible, how difficult is it, and what challenges exist?
John Glass, J. Craig Venter Institute

9:25 Using assembled DNA to create a pathogenic organism
Chris Anderson, University of California, Berkeley

9:35 What defense vulnerabilities exist due to advances in DNA synthesis and DNA
Sarah Carter, Science Policy Consulting

9:45 De-novo horsepox: a case study
Gregory Koblentz, George Mason University

9:55 Panel Discussion
Moderated by Patrick Boyle

10:45 Coffee Break


11:05 Introduction of Speakers and Goal of Panel
Andrew Ellington, University of Texas at Austin (committee member)

11:10 Animal Viruses, Evolution, and Zoonosis
Colin Parrish, Cornell University

11:20 Coronaviruses and Pathogen Engineering
Ralph Baric, University of North Carolina

11:30 What defense vulnerabilities exist due to our ability to predict and engineer virus
and pathogen evolution?
Todd Kuiken, North Carolina State University

11:40 Panel Discussion
Moderated by Andrew Ellington

12:20 Lunch


1:15 Introduction of Speakers and Goal of Panel
Peter Carr, Lincoln Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
(committee member)

1:20 What tools and communities should synthetic biology make true?
Drew Endy, Stanford (remotely)

1:30 What can “lesser skilled” actors really accomplish? How is the culture of synthetic biology impacting potential vulnerabilities?
Tom Burkett, Baltimore Underground Science Space (BUGSS)

1:40 Bioinformatics and design tools in the DIY community
Patrik D’haeseleer, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (remotely)

1:50 What defense vulnerabilities exist due to advances in ease of use, lowering of
barriers to entry in synthetic biology, and synthetic biology’s culture of openness
and sharing?
Piers Millett, Biosecure Ltd (remotely)

2:00 Panel Discussion
Moderated by Peter Carr

3:00 Coffee Break

3:20 What is on the horizon for synthetic biology?
Moderated by Kristala Jones-Prather, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
(committee member)

Emerging Technologies, Bottlenecks, and Horizon-Scanning
Richard Murray, Cal Tech (remotely)

Open Discussion with all attendees

4:20 Statements from the Public
Members of the public must register with a member of NAS staff to make a statement. These statements should inform the committee of an opinion held by the member of the public, or provide information that the committee has not yet received. This portion of the meeting is not intended to be a question and answer session.

5:30 Meeting Wrap Up and Adjourn

To Register:

Closed Session Summary Posted After the Meeting

The following committee members were present at the closed sessions of the meeting:
Dr. Michael J. Imperiale (Chair)
Dr. Patrick M. Boyle
Dr. Peter A. Carr
Dr. Douglas Densmore
Dr. Diane DiEuliis
Dr. Andrew Ellington
Dr. Gigi Kwik Gronvall
Dr. Joseph Kanabrock
Dr. Kara Morgan
Dr. Kristala Jones Prather
Mr. Tom Slezak
Dr. Jill Taylor.

The following topics were discussed in the closed sessions:
1) Group writing/drafting of text
2) Discussed information needs
3) Information to be discussed during the open session.
4) Committee assignments, project schedule, and agendas for future meetings.

The following materials (written documents) were made available to the committee in the closed sessions:

Date of posting of Closed Session Summary: May 29, 2017