Profile: Tackling the Challenges of Regulating Biotechnology | AIChE

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Profile: Tackling the Challenges of Regulating Biotechnology

February
2017

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“Policy issues are often divorced from science and technology, and I think that needs to change,” says Megan J. Palmer, Senior Research Scholar at the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) at Stanford Univ. CISAC brings together an interdisciplinary group of scholars and practitioners who seek solutions to emerging challenges in areas such as cybersecurity, public health and biosecurity, and nuclear security. “We are shaping our world and the way that we behave through the knowledge and technologies that we develop as scientists and engineers. I would like to see more individuals working to integrate policy issues into their practice,” she says.

Within CISAC, Palmer leads a research program that focuses on mitigating risks in biotechnology and within the growing field of synthetic biology. Rapid advances in synthetic biology are eroding many of the barriers that were previously relied on for security. “For example, new technologies could enable someone to synthesize a virus instead of acquiring it from a lab or nature,” Palmer says. “There is uncertainty about the risk of accidents and deliberate misuse as biotechnology advances.” Policy approaches must be created to take into account both the...

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