Andrew Ellington, PhD, is the Fraser Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Ellington’s research focuses on the development and evolution of artificial life, including nucleic acid operating systems that can function both in vitro and in vivo. His lab aims to “…[reduce] synthetic biology…to an engineering discipline rather than a buzzword.” Dr. Ellington was previously a recipient of the Office of Naval Research Young Investigator, Cottrell, and Pew Scholar Awards. He has actively advised numerous government agencies on biodefense and biotechnology issues, including being recently named a National Security Science and Engineering Faculty Fellow. He was also recently named an American Academy of Microbiology and AAAS Fellow. Dr. Ellington has also helped found the aptamer companies Archemix and b3 Biosciences, and has an intimate understanding of both the academic and commercial sides of synthetic biology, as well as the challenges to both.
Gigi K. Gronvall
Gigi Kwik Gronvall, PhD is a Senior Associate at the Center for Health Security of University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and Associate Professor of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh. An immunologist by training, Dr. Gronvall’s work addresses how scientists can diminish the threat of biological weapons and how they can contribute to an effective response against a biological weapon or a natural epidemic. Dr. Gronvall is the author of the book Synthetic Biology: Safety, Security, and Promise, published in Fall 2016 (Health Security Press). She is a member of the Threat Reduction Advisory Committee (TRAC), which provides the Secretary of Defense with independent advice and recommendations on reducing the risk to the United States, its military forces, and its allies and partners posed by nuclear, biological, chemical, and conventional threats. Dr. Gronvall had testified before Congress on topics relating to biosafety and biosecurity and is widely regarded as an expert on the role of scientists in health and national security matters. Dr. Gronvall earned her PhD from Johns Hopkins University.
Charles N. Haas
Charles Haas, PhD is the L.D. Betz Professor of Environmental Engineering and Head of the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering at Drexel University. His broad research interests include the estimation of human health risks from environmental exposures to pathogens and their control using engineering interventions and drinking water treatment. Dr. Haas is broadly knowledgeable in the field of risk assessment, particularly in the context of complex and interdependent systems. Dr. Haas was co-director of the Center for Advancing Microbial Risk Assessment that which was jointly funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Dr. Haas has served on a number of National Academy of Sciences’ committees, including serving as chair on the study that reviewed Risk Assessment Approaches for the Medical Countermeasures Test and Evaluation Facility at Fort Detrick, MD. Dr. Haas received his PhD in environmental engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Kristala Jones Prather
Kristala Jones Prather, PhD, is the Theodore T. Miller Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and an investigator in the Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center. Her research interests are centered on the engineering of recombinant microorganisms for the production of small molecules, especially focusing on the design and assembly of biological pathways to target compounds and the incorporation of novel control strategies for regulation of metabolism. Prior to joining MIT’s faculty, Dr. Prather worked in bioprocess research and development at Merck Research Laboratories. She has received numerous awards, including a position on the MIT Technology Review‘s TR35, a list of innovators under the age of 35; the National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award; and the Biochemical Engineering Journal Young Investigator Award. Prather has been recognized for excellence in teaching at MIT with several awards, including the School of Engineering’s Junior Bose Award for Excellence in Teaching, and through appointment as a MacVicar Faculty Fellow, the highest honor given for undergraduate teaching at MIT. Dr. Prather received her PhD from the University of California, Berkeley.
Joseph Kanabrocki, PhD, is the Associate Vice President for Research Safety and Professor of Microbiology in the Biological Sciences Division of the University of Chicago. Dr. Kanabrocki is tasked with instilling a culture that focuses on the health and well-being of all University personnel engaged in research activities. Dr. Kanabrocki is an expert in biosafety and biosecurity issues, especially practical ones arising from day-to-day laboratory work due to his appointment as Biological Safety Officer and Select Agent Responsible Official for the University of Chicago. Dr. Kanabrocki is a member of the NIH Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee (NIH-RAC) and currently a member of the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB). Dr. Kanabrocki served as NSABB Working Group Co-Chair for the recent NSABB report released regarding Recommendations for the Evaluation and Oversight of Proposed Gain-of-Function Research. Dr. Kanabrocki received his PhD in Microbiology from the University of South Dakota School of Medicine.
Kara Morgan, PhD, is a Research Leader at Battelle Memorial Institute (Battelle). Her work in public health policy analysis includes developing and evaluating data-driven decision support tools to support effective risk management decision making. She has worked extensively on risk assessment and in particular, on how results from risk assessments can be effectively integrated into decision making processes. Prior to working at Battelle, Dr. Morgan worked at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in several advisory and leadership positions for 10 years. Through her work supporting the National Nanotechnology Initiative during her time at FDA, in 2005 she published one of the first articles to establish a framework for informing risk analysis about nanoparticles. Her research in expert elicitation, decision analysis, and risk analysis have led to numerous publications developing and applying risk frameworks to decision making about microbial food safety and the pharmaceutical manufacturing quality. She is currently an adjunct professor at the John Glenn College for Public Affairs at Ohio State University. Dr. Morgan received her PhD in Engineering and Public Policy from Carnegie Mellon University.
Thomas R. Slezak, MS, is an Associate Program Leader at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Mr. Slezak is a computer scientist, and manages a team of biologists and software engineers to find innovative solutions for diagnosing and characterizing dangerous pathogens. Mr. Slezak’s team has developed PCR assays, pan-microbial microarrays (recently commercialized by Affymetrix), and DNA sequence analysis software to support a broad range of pathogen detection and forensic programs in biodefense and human/animal health. Mr. Slezak co-chaired a Blue Ribbon Panel on bioinformatics for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that led to new funding for the Advanced Molecular Detection program, and was a developer of the nationwide BioWatch system. Mr. Slezak has served on three National Academy of Sciences panels on biodefense topics, as well as the Academies’ Standing Committee on Biodefense Programs to Advise the Department of Defense. Mr. Slezak received his MS in Computer Science at the University of California, Davis.
Jill Taylor, PhD, is the Director of the Wadsworth Center and a Faculty Member of the Wadsworth School of Laboratory Sciences. The Wadsworth Center is the only research-intensive public health laboratory in the nation, and Dr. Taylor has served as its Director, Deputy Director, and Interim Director for the last 11 years. Dr. Taylor previously served as the Director of the Wadsworth Center’s Clinical Virology Program, which focused on introducing molecular technologies to ensure responsiveness to the state’s changing public health needs, with particular emphasis on influenza virus. As a member of the Board of Scientific Counselors of the CDC's Office of Infectious Diseases, and a member of the Board of Regents of the National Library of Medicine, she also contributes to policy discussions at the national level. Dr. Taylor is well-versed in developing future research agendas and analysis of new policy proposals and their implications. Dr. Taylor received her PhD from the University of Queensland, Australia.