Synthetic Biology Project

Ensuring benefits are realized through responsible development

The Synthetic Biology Project was established as an initiative of the Science and Technology Innovation Program of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

The Project aims to foster informed public and policy discourse concerning the advancement of synthetic biology – an emerging interdisciplinary field that uses advanced science and engineering to make or re-design living organisms, such as bacteria, so they can carry out specific functions. Synthetic biology involves making new genetic code, also known as DNA, which does not already exist in nature.

The Synthetic Biology Project provides independent, rigorous analysis that can inform critical decisions affecting the research, commercialization and use of synthetic biology. Its objective is to help ensure that, as synthetic biology moves forward, possible risks are minimized and benefits maximized.

In collaboration with researchers, governments, industries, non-governmental organizations, policymakers and others, the Project will work to identify gaps in our knowledge of the potential risks of synthetic biology, explore public perceptions towards the field, and examine governance options that will both ensure public safety and facilitate innovation.

All research results, reports, and the outcomes of our meetings and programs will be made broadly available through publications and over the World Wide Web. We include a wide variety of stakeholders, both domestic and international, in our work.

Work of the Synthetic Biology Project is supported by a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.