Security WG

  • Elizabeth Vitalis

    Beth Vitalis joined Inscripta in 2019 to help stand-up Biosecurity for the company’s digital genome engineering platform. She and the company are committed to safe, responsible use of its technology and have prioritized a proactive strategy to identify and help prevent biorisk scenarios. Beth interacts with groups across the company to implement a multi-faceted biosecurity system and continually adapt it to an expanding range of genome engineering endeavors. She is enthusiastic to collaborate with the greater engineering biology community to ensure security of our advancing technologies. After obtaining her Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences at UC San Francisco, Beth joined Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California where she led or contributed to various government supported biorisk detection and characterization efforts. Her projects included standardized pathogen assays, microbe evolution, functional predictions, and synthetic biology risk assessment. She also has enjoyed graduate and undergrad biology teaching roles and participating in community science education events.

  • David Shepherd

    David Shepherd is a Program Manager for the Department of Homeland Security, in its Science and Technology Directorate. He manages projects that help DHS and the interagency understand threats and risks stemming from biological agents and related advances. His projects range from in-depth studies of threats to creating measures to mitigate those risks and threats, with emphasis on efforts to build intergovernmental awareness and understanding. Recently Mr. Shepherd has started projects to bring the government community and the commercial community closer together to build the collaborative means to address 21st century threats, including risks to the bioeconomy. He also manages the Hazard Knowledge Center within DHS S&T’s Probablistic Awareness of National Threats, Hazards and Risks (PANTHR) program, and is S&T’s liaison to the DOD’s Combatting Terrorism Technical Support Office. Mr. Shepherd has been a federal program manager working in threat and risk awareness and reduction for over two decades. He has degrees in electrical engineering, history, and telecommunications.

  • Shadi Mamaghani

    Shadi Mamaghani, Ph.D., is a AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow at National Science Foundation. She is a cell and molecular biologist with a passion for convergence of different disciplines of science with engineering and medicine. Shadi believes that the next big discovery or cure will happen by cross-disciplinary training of scientists and building bridges amongst various scientific communities that are otherwise siloed. With this vision in mind, as a AAAS Fellow, Shadi has joined the Division of Materials Research at NSF, to facilitate new collaborations between the material research scientists with synthetic biologists. Within this capacity, Shadi is contributing to The Interagency working Group on Bioconvergence and is involved with EBRC’s road mapping on the intersection of Materials Research and Engineering Biology.
    Prior to joining the Fellowship program, Shadi worked as Scientific Program Manager and Subject Matter Expert at ERPi Consulting and Management firm and as a Program Director at National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) at National Institutes of Health (NIH). At NIH, Shadi established the “ImmunoEngineering” Program- a trans-disciplinary program, where development of novel cures for diseases of immune system (such as cancer, HIV, inflammation, etc), involves engineering, math and computational biology. This program led to the development of multiple funding opportunities across different Institutes at NIH, including a new U54 Center Grants within NCI Cancer Moonshot Initiative. During her time at NIH, Shadi served on different scientific committees and coordinated the Inter-agency working Group on Medical Imaging in collaboration with the Office of Science and technology of the White House (OSTP) and 12 other agencies.
    Shadi received her doctorate degree from University of Toronto, Canada with a focus on developing a new treatment for pancreatic cancer.

  • Becky Mackelprang

    Becky received her Ph.D. in Plant Biology in 2017 from UC Berkeley where she studied plant responses to bacterial and fungal pathogens. She then worked as a postdoc with Dr. Peggy Lemaux, dividing her time between plant biotechnology research and science communication. In the summer of 2019, she was an AAAS Mass Media Fellow at Ensia where she wrote about agriculture and biotechnology. She is happy to be gaining this experience in science policy and will be working primarily in the Security & Synthetic Biology focus area.

  • Sam Weiss Evans

    Sam’s work focuses on the governance of security concerns in emerging research technology, especially biology. He studies and actively engages with a range of communities building new approaches to the identification and governance of security concerns, including US and British governments, the international Genetically Engineered Machines Competition, DARPA, and the United Nations Institute on Disarmament Research.

  • Bridget Luckie

    I graduated from Clemson University in 2018 with a B.S. in Biochemistry and a B.S. in Genetics and am a rising 2nd year PhD student in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology at UC Berkeley.

  • Jean Peccoud

    Dr. Peccoud’s research program focuses on synthetic biology informatics. His group combines computational and experimental efforts to develop predictive models of behaviors encoded in synthetic DNA sequences. He is particularly interested in using methods from synthetic biology to optimize biomanufacturing processes used to produce biologic drugs, antibodies, and other proteins of commercial interest. Peccoud is also actively engaged in efforts to understand the security implications of synthetic biology.

    Shortly after completing a graduate research project in molecular immunology, Jean Peccoud’s scientific interests shifted to computational biology. In 1989, he published one of the first articles describing a mathematical model of molecular noise in gene regulatory networks. In 1993, he recognized the importance of real-time PCR and developed new statistical techniques suitable to analyze this new type of data. In 2002, he observed with excitement the very early developments of synthetic biology. After exploring the potential applications of this new technology to plant biotechnology, he blazed a trail in synthetic biology informatics.

    Jean Peccoud came to Colorado State University from the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech. He brought with him a diverse experience that includes working for Fortune 500 and start-up companies. He is the founding Editor-in-Chief of the journal Synthetic Biology published by Oxford University Press.

  • Kate Adamala

    Kate Adamala is a biochemist building synthetic cells. Her research aims at understanding chemical principles of biology, using artificial cells to create new tools for bioengineering, drug development, and basic research. Kate’s research spans questions from the origin and earliest evolution of life, using synthetic biology to colonize space, to the future of biotechnology and medicine.

  • Mike O’Keefe

    Dr. O’Keefe supports the Department of Defense in the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Chemical and Biological Defense, advising senior decision makers on science and technology, with an emphasis on synthetic biology and advanced biotechnologies. In prior positions, he supported the Department of Homeland Security and served a career as a military officer, culminating in directing the Defense Department’s Chemical and Biological Defense Science and Technology portfolio

  • Farren Isaacs

  • JL Clem Fortman

    Clem Fortman

    J. L. “Clem” Fortman is a synthetic biologist with a long standing interest in biodefense. He is currently a staff member at the EBRC, and was formerly a technical analyst for synthetic biology with ANSER providing support to the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Chemical and Biological Defense, where he previously served two years as an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science and Technology Policy Fellow. He is also a former Fellow with the Emerging Leader in Biosecurity Initiative at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for Health Security. Clem is a classically trained microbial physiologist with a PhD in microbiology from the University of Minnesota. He spent 6 years as a postdoc in the University of California, Berkeley (UCB) Department of Chemical Engineering where he gained his expertise in synthetic biology. He is a founder of the introductory College-Level Experience in Microbiology (iCLEM) program at UCB, an educational outreach program for under resourced high school students, as well as Lygos, a San Francisco Bay area synthetic biology company. His career in biodefense was stimulated by his time as an enlisted man in the US Army where he served in a number of different roles including assistant Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Non-Commissioned Officer for the Headquarters and Service Battery of the 1st Battalion 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment.

  • Laurie Zoloth

    Laurie Zoloth

    A leader in the field of religious studies with particular scholarly interest in bioethics and Jewish studies, Laurie Zoloth’s research explores religion and ethics, drawing from sources ranging from Biblical and Talmudic texts to postmodern Jewish philosophy, including the writings of Emmanuel Levinas. Her scholarship spans the ethics of genetic engineering, stem cell research, synthetic biology, social justice in health care, and how science and medicine are taught. She also researches the practices of interreligious dialogue, exploring how religion plays a role in public discussion and policy.

    Zoloth is author of Health Care and the Ethics of Encounter: A Jewish Discussion of Social Justice and co-editor of five books, including Notes from a Narrow Ridge: Religion and Bioethics and Jews and Genes: The Genetic Future in Contemporary Jewish Thought.

    Zoloth has been the president of the American Academy of Religion and the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities. She was the inaugural director of the Jewish Studies program at San Francisco State University and director of graduate studies in religious studies at Northwestern. She is an elected member of the Hastings Center and a life member of Clare Hall, University of Cambridge. She is a founding board member of the Society for Scriptural Reasoning.

    Her work on bioethics and health care led her to serve on the NASA Advisory Council, the space agency’s highest civilian advisory board; the International Planetary Protection Committee; the National Recombinant DNA Advisory Board, and the executive committee of the International Society for Stem Cell Research. She served as chair of the first bioethics advisory board at the Howard Hughes Medical Research Institute and has testified in front of Congress, the President’s Commission on Bioethics, and state legislatures.

    Zoloth began her career as a neonatal nurse working in impoverished communities; she holds a bachelor’s degree in women’s studies from the University of California, Berkeley and a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of the State of New York. She received a master’s degree in Jewish studies and a doctorate in social ethics from the Graduate Theological Union. Zoloth also holds a master’s degree in English from San Francisco State University.

    Prior to joining the University of Chicago, Zoloth served as a Charles McCormick Deering Professor of Teaching Excellence at Northwestern University, holding appointments in the Department of Religious Studies in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and in the Feinberg School of Medicine. At Northwestern, she was founding director of the Brady Program in Ethics and Civic Life at the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and founding director of the Center for Bioethics, Science and Society at the Feinberg School of Medicine.

    She currently serves on the Ethics Advisory Board of NASA; the steering committee of The Engineering Biology Research Committee; on the CDC (Biological Agents Working Group); and on the Ethics Board of the American Heart Association.

  • Richard Murray

    Richard M. Murray received the B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from California Institute of Technology in 1985 and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1988 and 1991, respectively. He is currently the Thomas E. and Doris Everhart Professor of Control & Dynamical Systems and Bioengineering at Caltech. Murray’s research is in the application of feedback and control to networked systems, with applications in biology and autonomy. Current projects include analysis and design of biomolecular feedback circuits, synthesis of discrete decision-making protocols for reactive systems, and design of highly resilient architectures for autonomous systems.

  • Tae Seok Moon

  • June Medford

  • Nathan Hillson

    Nathan Hillson

    Dr. Hillson earned his Ph.D. in Biophysics from Harvard Medical School. He did his postdoctoral work in Developmental (Micro)Biology at Stanford University School of Medicine. Dr. Hillson's work has spanned the realms of the private (notably as co-founder/Chief Scientific Officer at TeselaGen) and public biotechnology sectors. As Department Head of BioDesign within the Biological Systems & Engineering Division, Dr. Hillson leads scientists and engineers within Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory whose domain expertise spans synthetic biology, metabolic engineering, microbiology, microbial communities, software engineering, and laboratory automation engineering. As overall Principal Investigator of the U.S. DOE Agile Biofoundry, Dr. Hillson leads scientists/engineers across 8 U.S. DOE National Labs towards the development of a public infrastructure that enables the private sector to reduce the cost and accelerate bioprocess commercialization timelines. This infrastructure complements discovery engines (such as the Joint Genome Institute, to which Dr. Hillson also contributes).

  • Andrew Ellington

    The Ellington lab works on using synthetic biology to augment organismal chemistry, generating expanded genetic alphabets and genetic codes. In addition, we attempt to developing orthogonal control systems for a variety of organisms that allow us to readily lay in new instruction sets that can operate on top of normal metabolism. Between these innovations, it has proven possible to develop and produce novel biomaterials, with the ultimate goal of being able to direct the evolution of materials properties.

  • James Diggans

    James Diggans is Director, Data Science and Biosecurity for Twist Bioscience, a DNA synthesis company based in San Francisco, CA. He holds a PhD from George Mason University in Computational Biology and Bioinformatics and has worked in target discovery, molecular diagnostic development and biodefense including five years leading the computational biology group at the MITRE Corporation. His research has included methods for efficient detection of biological weapons release, machine learning-based cancer diagnosis, and novel algorithmic approaches to discerning intent in oligonucleotide-length DNA synthesis requests. At Twist, his group builds cloud-based bioinformatics systems for effective biosecurity screening and analysis of next generation sequencing data to power silicon-based DNA synthesis at record scale.

  • Megan Palmer

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