Safety by design: Biosafety and biosecurity in the age of synthetic genomics

Stefan A. Hoffmann, James Diggans, Douglas Densmore, Junbiao Dai, Tom Knight, Emily Leproust, Jef D. Boeke, Nicole Wheeler, Yizhi Cai

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Technologies to profoundly engineer biology are becoming increasingly affordable, powerful, and accessible to a widening group of actors. While offering tremendous potential to fuel biological research and the bioeconomy, this development also increases the risk of inadvertent or deliberate creation and dissemination of pathogens. Effective regulatory and technological frameworks need to be developed and deployed to manage these emerging biosafety and biosecurity risks. Here, we review digital and biological approaches of a range of technology readiness levels suited to address these challenges. Digital sequence screening technologies already are used to control access to synthetic DNA of concern. We examine the current state of the art of sequence screening, challenges and future directions, and environmental surveillance for the presence of engineered organisms. As biosafety layer on the organism level, we discuss genetic biocontainment systems that can be used to created host organisms with an intrinsic barrier against unchecked environmental proliferation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number106165
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 17 2023


  • Biological sciences
  • Genomics
  • Systems biology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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