Improving Security Considerations in Engineering Biology Research

The EBRC Improving Security Considerations program, financially supported by the US Department of Homeland Security, is a broad effort to encourage researchers in engineering biology to consider the security implications of their work. Through workshops and other educational activities, we aim to establish norms and practices for researchers and the research-support community to better incorporate security into the research enterprise.

Our goals are to educate the community about security considerations and risk, policies, and mitigation strategies and resources associated with improving security in engineering biology research and products. EBRC also aims to improve communication and engagement between researchers and the security community (including policy makers); clarify and contextualize the language surrounding security in engineering biology; and integrate security into the responsible conduct of research culture through proactive communication and discussion of security.

EBRC and its members are aware that it is possible to engineer biology for malicious purposes. We are taking a proactive approach to deterring and mitigating potential misuse of this technology by working with stakeholders across biotechnology fields, as well as security and policy professionals. It is our goal to engrain security considerations as a integral part of the responsible conduct of research and to build and maintain dialog with the security enterprise and policymakers across the globe.

Efforts to improve communications between the engineering biology and security communities include:

  • Malice Analysis Workshops that train researchers to critically evaluate their own research for security concerns
  • Security sessions and panels at EBRC Annual Meetings and Retreats
  • Development of educational materials for students
  • Engagement with NGOs and other organizations working at the interface of security and biotechnology
  • Presentation of briefings to government stakeholders
  • Security workshops to provide deep dives on relevant topics
  • Presentations at professional conferences
  • Security focused contributions to the EBRC newsletter
  • Distributing relevant publications and abstracts to EBRC members
This material is based upon work supported by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security under Grant Award Number, 2017‐ST‐108‐FRG002. The views and conclusions contained in this document are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as necessarily representing the official policies, either expressed or implied, of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.