Biosecurity Takes the Main Stage at SynBioBeta 2023

The 2023 SynBioBeta conference—an international gathering of 2000 synthetic biology industry representatives, funders, researchers, and other experts—took place from May 23-25 in Oakland, California, featuring discussions about cutting-edge bioscience and biotechnology advances. SynBioBeta brings together participants from across the biotechnology sector and serves as a platform for startups and industry leaders to exchange ideas, showcase new products, and attract talent and investment. The importance of biosecurity was a major theme at this year’s conference – with several panel discussions and workshops focused on this topic throughout the three-day event.  NTI | bio played a key role in shaping and leading biosecurity discussions at the event, including through two main-stage events that highlighted the importance of protecting bioscience and biotechnology advances so society can reap their benefits, while guarding against accidental or deliberate misuse.

NTI | bio Vice President Dr. Jaime Yassif moderated the main-stage panel discussion “Biosecurity: Safeguarding Synthetic Biology Against Misuse” on May 24 alongside Science Policy Consulting, LLC Principal Dr. Sarah Carter, Dr. Becky Mackleprang of Engineering Biology Research Consortium, Ms. Sophie Peresson of DNA Script, and Dr.  Jacob Beal of Raytheon BBN. The panel explored emerging biological risks associated with synthetic biology advances and practical approaches for mitigating these risks—including safeguarding DNA synthesis technology and benchtop synthesis devices. “If we want to see all the benefits and human flourishing that synthetic biology can offer,” said Yassif. “It’s in our shared interest to guard against the risk that synthetic biology could be misused with catastrophic global consequences.”  Yassif and Carter co-authored NTI | bio’s recent report on Benchtop DNA Synthesis Devices: Capabilities, Biosecurity Implications, and Governance.

Dr. Piers Millett, Executive Director of the International Biosecurity and Biosafety Initiative for Science (IBBIS), delivered a lightning talk on the main stage on May 25. His presentation, “Safeguarding Synthetic Biology: IBBIS and the Common Mechanism to Prevent Illicit Gene Synthesis,” showcased IBBIS’ value for stakeholders in the synthetic biology industry through a newly released video featuring prominent figures in the biotechnology community.

NTI also co-sponsored a breakout session with DNA Script and Raytheon BBN, “The Roadmap to Biosecurity: Are We on Track?” which addressed biosecurity through the lens of different stakeholders throughout the research and commercialization pathway.

Read more about NTI | bio’s work here.

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