Synthetic Biology Biosecurity Tabletop and Corresponding Educational Tools

Ryan Morhard

This Strategic Action Plan proposes convening essential stakeholders within the synthetic biology and biosecurity community to participate in a biosecurity tabletop exercise meant to form the basis for a high-production web-based learning tool designed to enhance learning by enabling students, scientists, policymakers, and emergency professionals to virtually simulate participation in such an exercise. The in-person exercise, as well as the web-based simulation, would aid in establishing norms for researchers to follow during their research activities, and increase understanding between the research community and federal entities responsible for biosecurity, by exercising illustrative scenarios meant to provide education on respective roles in ensuring safe practice of synthetic biology and in evaluating and managing risks and consequences of a biosecurity emergency. Creating a shared understanding and facilitating communication between those that practice synthetic biology and policymakers leading government programs responsible for biosecurity risk and consequence management creates opportunities for improved coordination and comprehension and sets the foundation for policies and regulations that both preserve security and inspire innovation.