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Michael Imperiale, University of Michigan Medical School (Committee Chair)

Michael Imperiale, PhD (Committee Chair) is the Arthur F. Thurnau Professor and Associate Chair of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Michigan Medical School. Dr. Imperiale’s research focuses on the molecular biology of the small DNA tumor virus BK polyomavirus (BKPyV), and specifically on how the virus traffics through the cell and interacts with the host intrinsic immune functions. Dr. Imperiale is a previous member of the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) and has been deeply involved in the policy discussion regarding the potential risks and benefits of gain-of-function research. In 2010, he was elected as a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2011. He is the founding editor-in-chief of mSphere and also serves as an editor for mBio. In addition to his laboratory research, Dr. Imperiale is involved in science policy. He serves on the Committee on Science, Technology, and Law at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; and on the Planetary Protection Subcommittee at NASA. Dr. Imperiale received his BA, MA, and PhD from Columbia University, all in biological sciences.

Patrick Boyle, Ginkgo Bioworks

Patrick Boyle, PhD is the Head of Design at Ginkgo Bioworks, a Boston-based synthetic biology company that makes and sells engineered organisms. Dr. Boyle’s team provides design tools and synthetic biology expertise to Ginkgo’s Organism Engineers, and is an integral part of Ginkgo’s Design, Build, Test, and Ferment strategy for organism engineering. Dr. Boyle has extensive hands-on experience with the day-to-day applications of synthetic biology, as well as with working within the existing regulatory structure surrounding synthetic biology. Dr. Boyle received his PhD in Biological and Biomedical Sciences from Harvard Medical School.

Statement of Committee Composition:  Disclosure of Conflict of Interest:  Patrick Boyle

In accordance with Section 15 of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, the “Academy shall make its best efforts to ensure that no individual appointed to serve on a committee has a conflict of interest that is relevant to the functions to be performed, unless such conflict is promptly and publicly disclosed and the Academy determines that the conflict is unavoidable.” A conflict of interest refers to an interest, ordinarily financial, of an individual that could be directly affected by the work of the committee. As specified in the Academy’s policy and procedures (, an objective determination is made for reach provisionally appointed committee member whether or not a conflict of interest exists given the facts of the individual’s financial and other interests and the task being undertaken by the committee. A determination of a conflict of interest for an individual is not an assessment of that individual’s actual behavior or character or ability to act objectively despite the conflicting interest.

We have concluded that for this committee to accomplish the tasks for which it was established, its membership must include, among others, at least one person who is currently and directly engaged in the synthetic biotechnology industry with a focus on the large scale development of organisms using synthetic biology.

To meet the need for this expertise and experience, Dr. Patrick Boyle is proposed for appointment to this committee even though we have concluded that he has a conflict of interest because he is an employee of Ginkgo Bioworks, whose financial interests could be affected by the outcome of this study.

As his biographical summary makes clear, Dr. Boyle is an expert in organism design aspects of synthetic biology. He has current industry experience engineering organisms using synthetic biology tools at a company focused on making and selling organisms, with the scale of organism production not observed in academic laboratories. This experience provides a unique lens on both the ability to engineer organisms and a broad knowledge of the effectiveness of DNA design tools in engineering organisms with particular characteristics. This expertise and experience in the design of large numbers of organisms is critical to the ability of the committee to fulfill its task. We believe that Dr. Boyle can serve effectively as a member of the committee and that the committee can produce an objective report, taking into account the composition of the committee, the work to be performed, and the procedures to be followed in completing the work.

After an extensive search, we have been unable to find another individual with Dr. Boyle’s specialized expertise in the large scale production of organisms who does not have a similar conflict of interest. Therefore, we have concluded that this potential conflict is unavoidable.

Peter A. Carr, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory

Peter A. Carr, PhD is a Senior Scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory, where he leads the Synthetic Biology research program. His research interests span genome engineering, rapid prototyping of both hardware and wetware, DNA synthesis and error correction, risk evaluation, and biodefense. Dr. Carr is the Director of Judging for the International Genetically Engineered Machine Competition (iGEM) and is deeply knowledgeable about both the practice and potential implications of synthetic biology, with a special focus on the potential impacts on biodefense. Dr. Carr received his bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from Harvard, and his PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics from Columbia University.

Douglas Densmore, Boston University

Douglas Densmore, PhD is Associate Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and a Hariri Institute for Computing and Computational Science and Engineering Faculty Fellow, both at Boston University. His research focuses on the development of tools for the specification, design, and assembly of synthetic biological systems, drawing upon his experience with embedded system-level design and electronic design automation (EDA). He is the director of the Cross-disciplinary Integration of Design Automation Research (CIDAR) group at Boston University, where his team of staff and postdoctoral researchers, undergraduate interns, and graduate students develop computational and experimental tools for synthetic biology. He is the lead investigator for the National Science Foundation Expeditions “Living Computing Project” and a Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and Association for Computing Machinery. Dr. Densmore received his PhD in Electrical Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley.

Diane DiEuliis, National Defense University

Diane DiEuliis, PhD is a Senior Research Fellow at National Defense University.  Her research areas focus on emerging biological technologies, biodefense, and preparedness for biothreats.  Dr. DiEuliis also studies issues related to dual use research, disaster recovery research, and behavioral, cognitive, and social science as it relates to important aspects of deterrence and preparedness. Prior to joining NDU, Dr. DiEuliis was the Deputy Director for Policy in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dr. DiEuliis also previously served in the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) at the White House and was a program director at the National Institutes of Health. Dr. DiEuliis has a broad knowledge about the policy implications of emerging technologies, as well as the intricacies that accompany instituting new policies to regulate such emerging technologies. Dr. DiEuliis received her PhD in biological sciences from the University of Delaware.

Andrew Ellington, University of Texas at Austin

Andrew Ellington, PhD, is the Fraser Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Ellington’s research focuses on the development and evolution of artificial life, including nucleic acid operating systems that can function both in vitro and in vivo. His lab aims to “…[reduce] synthetic biology…to an engineering discipline rather than a buzzword.” Dr. Ellington was previously a recipient of the Office of Naval Research Young Investigator, Cottrell, and Pew Scholar Awards. He has actively advised numerous government agencies on biodefense and biotechnology issues, including being recently named a National Security Science and Engineering Faculty Fellow. He was also recently named an American Academy of Microbiology and AAAS Fellow. Dr. Ellington has also helped found the aptamer companies Archemix and b3 Biosciences, and has an intimate understanding of both the academic and commercial sides of synthetic biology, as well as the challenges to both.

Gigi Kwik Gronvall, Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security

Gigi Kwik Gronvall, PhD is a Senior Associate at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and Visiting Faculty at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. An immunologist by training, Dr. Gronvall’s work addresses how scientists can diminish the threat of biological weapons and how they can contribute to an effective response against a biological weapon or a natural epidemic. Dr. Gronvall is the author of the book Synthetic Biology: Safety, Security, and Promise, published in Fall 2016 (Health Security Press). She is a member of the Threat Reduction Advisory Committee (TRAC), which provides the Secretary of Defense with independent advice and recommendations on reducing the risk to the United States, its military forces, and its allies and partners posed by nuclear, biological, chemical, and conventional threats. Dr. Gronvall had testified before Congress on topics relating to biosafety and biosecurity and is widely regarded as an expert on the role of scientists in health and national security matters. Dr. Gronvall earned her PhD from Johns Hopkins University.

Charles Haas, Drexel University

Charles Haas, PhD is the L.D. Betz Professor of Environmental Engineering and Head of the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering at Drexel University. His broad research interests include the estimation of human health risks from environmental exposures to pathogens and their control using engineering interventions and drinking water treatment. Dr. Haas is broadly knowledgeable in the field of risk assessment, particularly in the context of complex and interdependent systems. Dr. Haas was co-director of the Center for Advancing Microbial Risk Assessment that which was jointly funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Dr. Haas has served on a number of National Academy of Sciences’ committees, including serving as chair on the study that reviewed Risk Assessment Approaches for the Medical Countermeasures Test and Evaluation Facility at Fort Detrick, MD. Dr. Haas received his PhD in environmental engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Joseph Kanabrocki, University of Chicago

Joseph Kanabrocki, PhD, is the Associate Vice President for Research Safety and Professor of Microbiology in the Biological Sciences Division of the University of Chicago. Dr. Kanabrocki is tasked with instilling a culture that focuses on the health and well-being of all University personnel engaged in research activities. Dr. Kanabrocki is an expert in biosafety and biosecurity issues, especially practical ones arising from day-to-day laboratory work due to his appointment as Biological Safety Officer and Select Agent Responsible Official for the University of Chicago. Dr. Kanabrocki is a member of the NIH Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee (NIH-RAC) and currently a member of the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB). Dr. Kanabrocki served as NSABB Working Group Co-Chair for the recent NSABB report released regarding Recommendations for the Evaluation and Oversight of Proposed Gain-of-Function Research. Dr. Kanabrocki received his PhD in Microbiology from the University of South Dakota School of Medicine.

Kara Morgan, Battelle Memorial Institute

Kara Morgan, PhD, is a Research Leader at Battelle Memorial Institute (Battelle). Her work in public health policy analysis includes developing and evaluating data-driven decision support tools to support effective risk management decision making. She has worked extensively on risk assessment and in particular, on how results from risk assessments can be effectively integrated into decision making processes. Prior to working at Battelle, Dr. Morgan worked at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in several advisory and leadership positions for 10 years. Through her work supporting the National Nanotechnology Initiative during her time at FDA, in 2005 she published one of the first articles to establish a framework for informing risk analysis about nanoparticles.  Her research in expert elicitation, decision analysis, and risk analysis have led to numerous publications developing and applying risk frameworks to decision making about microbial food safety and the pharmaceutical manufacturing quality.  She is currently an adjunct professor at the John Glenn College for Public Affairs at Ohio State University.  Dr. Morgan received her PhD in Engineering and Public Policy from Carnegie Mellon University.

Kristala Jones Prather, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Kristala Jones Prather, PhD, is the Arthur D. Little Professor of Chemical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Her research interests are centered on the engineering of recombinant microorganisms for the production of small molecules, especially focusing on the design and assembly of biological pathways to target compounds and the incorporation of novel control strategies for regulation of metabolism. Prior to joining MIT’s faculty, Dr. Prather worked in Bioprocess Research and Development at Merck Research Laboratories. She has received numerous awards, including a position on the MIT Technology Review‘s TR35, a list of innovators under the age of 35; the National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award; and the Biochemical Engineering Journal Young Investigator Award. Prather has been recognized for excellence in teaching at MIT with several awards, including the School of Engineering’s Junior Bose Award for Excellence in Teaching, and through appointment as a MacVicar Faculty Fellow, the highest honor given for undergraduate teaching at MIT. Dr. Prather received her PhD from the University of California, Berkeley.

Thomas Slezak, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Thomas R. Slezak, MS, is an Associate Program Leader at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Mr. Slezak is a computer scientist, and manages a team of biologists and software engineers to find innovative solutions for diagnosing and characterizing dangerous pathogens. Mr. Slezak’s team has developed PCR assays, pan-microbial microarrays (recently commercialized by Affymetrix), and DNA sequence analysis software to support a broad range of pathogen detection and forensic programs in biodefense and human/animal health. Mr. Slezak co-chaired a Blue Ribbon Panel on bioinformatics for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that led to new funding for the Advanced Molecular Detection program, and was a developer of the nationwide BioWatch system. Mr. Slezak has served on three National Academy of Sciences panels on biodefense topics, as well as the Academies’ Standing Committee on Biodefense Programs to Advise the Department of Defense. Mr. Slezak received his MS in Computer Science at the University of California, Davis.

Jill Taylor, Wadsworth Center

Jill Taylor, PhD, is the Director of the Wadsworth Center and a Faculty Member of the Wadsworth School of Laboratory Sciences. The Wadsworth Center is the only research-intensive public health laboratory in the nation, and Dr. Taylor has served as its Director, Deputy Director, and Interim Director for the last 11 years. Dr. Taylor previously served as the Director of the Wadsworth Center’s Clinical Virology Program, which focused on introducing molecular technologies to ensure responsiveness to the state’s changing public health needs, with particular emphasis on influenza virus. As a member of the Board of Scientific Counselors of the CDC’s Office of Infectious Diseases, and a member of the Board of Regents of the National Library of Medicine, she also contributes to policy discussions at the national level. Dr. Taylor is well-versed in developing future research agendas and analysis of new policy proposals and their implications. Dr. Taylor received her PhD from the University of Queensland, Australia.