Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D.
Commissioner U.S. Food and Drug Administration
An interdisciplinary group of international leaders and experts came together virtually on May 21 to advance the mission and scope of a prospective global entity dedicated to reducing biotechnology risks, promoting global biosecurity norms, and strengthening international oversight of life sciences research. The 15+ experts from international organizations, academia, philanthropy, and biotechnology industry comprise a steering group that will advise NTI | bio on its work to shape the entity’s structure, governance, and relationship to key stakeholders.
The meeting builds on momentum established during a September 2020 meeting convened by NTI Co-Chair and CEO Ernest J. Moniz that brought together global experts to discuss the need to establish an international entity to oversee global biosecurity norms and best practices and to further work to establish an international Common Mechanism for DNA synthesis screening.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the urgency of these efforts by demonstrating the severe impact of biological events in terms of loss of life, as well as economic and political disruption on a global scale. Adding to the risk: gaps in the global biosecurity architecture regarding governance of bioscience and biotechnology and the increasing threat of deliberate misuse or catastrophic laboratory accidents. A dedicated entity can reduce these risks by developing global biosecurity norms and innovative tools and governance approaches that can be used by industry, academia, governments, and funders in a collective effort to reduce emerging biological risks associated with rapid technology advances.
This project is part of the Biosecurity Innovation and Risk Reduction Initiative (BIRRI). Learn more about BIRRI and related initiatives here.
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In a new article for the CTC Sentinel, NTI | bio Vice President Jaime Yassif explains how advances in bioscience and biotechnology are accompanied by emerging biological risks and cites the need for action to safeguard the life sciences to prevent biotechnology catastrophe.
In a new perspective penned for Science and Diplomacy, NTI | bio’s Margaret Hamburg, Jaime Yassif, Hayley Severance and former NTI David A. Hamburg Distinguished Fellow R. Alta Charo highlight the increasing risks of accidental or deliberate misuse of modern bioscience and biotechnology, and propose the establishment of a new organization.
NTI | bio Senior Fellow Jaime Yassif, Ph.D., called on government leaders to take urgent steps to prevent future catastrophic biological events during a Dec. 8, 2021 hearing.