Synthetic Biology

Synthetic biology refers to a set of concepts, approaches, and tools within biotechnology that enable the modification or creation of biological organisms. Synthetic biology aims to improve the process of genetic engineering, and is hallmarked by the adoption of approaches common to other engineering disciplines, standardization of components, use of software and computational modeling for designing biological systems, and iterative Design-Build-Test (DBT) cycles for continuous improvement.

Recent Publications

Biomedical specialist Mamadou Dialio at work in the Cedars-Sinai Biomanufacturing Center.

Strategic Insights | March 11, 2021

Want to Grow the Economy? Try Fermenting It Instead

Peter Emanuel Ph.D., Brian Feeney Ph.D. and Diane DiEuliis Ph.D.

U.S. industry’s distribution system and supply chains were vulnerable before COVID, but pandemic-related disruptions to supply chains fully exposed this already alarming problem. U.S. manufacturers have relied too heavily on foreign materials for production, and the steady off-shoring of critical industries over a course of decades has reduced direct control of vital defense-related manufacturing should it be needed.


Nature Communications, Volume 11

Nature Communications, Volume 11 | Dec. 9, 2020

The biosecurity benefits of genetic engineering attribution

Gregory Lewis et al., including Gerald L. Epstein

In a recent volume of Nature Communications, Dr. Gerald Epstein and colleagues examine the biosecurity benefits of genetic engineering attribution. This paper is a policy companion piece to a technical paper, published in the same issue, announcing new results in using machine learning to recognize the source of a genetically engineered DNA.



| Dec. 2, 2019

Synthetic Biology Industry Practices and Opportunities for Biosecurity and Potential Roles for the U.S. Government

Sarah R. Carter and Diane DiEuliis

This report summarizes discussions with industry representatives about the current and future structure of the synthetic biology industry, perspectives on potential misuse and vulnerabilities of synthetic biology tools and capabilities, and business practices to prevent misuse of tools and to protect industry assets.



| July 9, 2018

The Digitization of Biology: Understanding the New Risks and Implications for Governance

Natasha E. Bajema, Diane DiEuliis, Charles Lutes, and Yong-Bee Lim

In research paper no. 3, Dr. Natasha Bajema, Dr. Diane DiEuliis, Mr. Charles Lutes and Mr. Yong-Bee Lim explore the implications of the digitization of biology, identify new risks and challenges for governance.



| April 4, 2018

Biodata Risks and Synthetic Biology: A Critical Juncture

Diane DiEuliis, Charles D. Lutes, & James Giordano

The tools of synthetic biology and the life sciences are rapidly advancing, as the ability to apply classical engineering to biological systems creates increasing possibilities for innovations in health and medicine, materials science, energy and agriculture