Radha Krishnakumar

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J. Craig Venter Institute
Krishnakumar, Radha

Radha Krishnakumar, PhD.  Synthetic Biology and Bioenergy,  J.Craig Venter Institute,  9704, Medical Center Drive,  Rockville, MD 20850

Email: rkrishna@jcvi.org

Wed July 10 | 4:30 - 6:00 | Plenary Session

In February of 2013, scientists and policy analysts from the J. Craig Venter Institute and SynBERC held a workshop on Intrinsic Biocontainment, focusing primarily on the state of science of biocontainment of synthetic and engineered organisms and its future possibilities. The objective of this workshop was to discuss biocontainment alternatives for engineered organisms used in both contained facilities and intended for release into the environment.  In this session, a synopsis of the proceedings of this workshop will be presented, including a review of the history of biocontainment and methods currently in use, and advantages and limitations of the approaches in progress.  The categories of methods that were discussed included self-destruct mechanisms and kill switches, engineered metabolic limitations including auxotrophy and complex circuits, and rewriting of the genetic code through the addition of non-standard amino acids and XNAs. I will also discuss some of the overarching questions raised during the workshop regarding the evolutionary and ecological traits of synthetic and engineered microorganisms, as well as some fundamental questions concerning the stability of synthetic and engineered circuits and genomes.