Biosecurity In the Age of Genome Editing

On December 3rd, New America hosted an event to celebrate and share a new report on the biosecurity implications of genome editing.

In 2017, researchers from George Mason University and Stanford University initiated a two-year multidisciplinary study, Editing Biosecurity, to explore critical biosecurity issues related to CRISPR and related genome editing technologies. The overarching goal of the study was to present governance options and recommendations to key stakeholders, and to identify broader trends in the life sciences that may alter the security landscape. In characterizing the landscape, and in the design of these options and recommendations, the research team focused on how to manage the often-competing demands of promoting innovation and preventing misuse, and how to adapt current, or create new, governance mechanisms to achieve these objectives.

The four study leads and seven research assistants for Editing Biosecurity were assisted by a core research group of fourteen subject-matter experts with backgrounds in security, the life sciences, policy, industry, and, ethics. The centerpiece of the study was three invitation-only workshops that brought together the study leads and the core research group for structured discussions of the benefits, risks, and governance options for genome editing. To support these workshops and the final report, the study leads prepared two working papers on risk assessment and governance, respectively, and commissioned five issue briefs on key topics.

The executive summary of the report can be found here and you can read the full report (Editing Biosecurity: Needs and Strategies for Governing Genome Editing) here. You can also access the video recording of the event here.

For a recap from GMU Biodefense graduate student Justin Hurt, please check this page.