Alfred P. Sloan Foundation

Synthetic Biology

The goal of Sloan’s Synthetic Biology initiative is to identify the risks associated with research in and applications of synthetic biology and to assess the ethical, regulatory, and public policy implications of these risks. Grantmaking aims to educate scientists, policy makers, journalists and the public about synthetic biology, improve biosecurity and biosafety within the field, lay groundwork to address issues in regulation and governance, and help develop a cadre of scholars and practitioners to evaluate the ethical, social, and public policy consequences of synthetic biology research.

Recent grantmaking in this program has focused on informing key audiences about synthetic biology. A grant to The Hastings Center aims to engage the ethical community to identify and articulate ethical issues associated with synthetic biology research and provide a basis for informed policy discussion. A Sloan-funded project at the J. Craig Venter Institute is educating the scientific community about societal concerns regarding synthetic biology and educating the policy and journalism communities about the science underlying synthetic biology research. A grant to the Woodrow Wilson International Center aims to identify risks associated with synthetic biology, evaluate the adequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms, and educate policy makers and the public through events and through its website,

The Foundation has been working in synthetic biology since 2005. Initial grants included a Foundation-sponsored report by the J. Craig Venter Institute, “Synthetic Genomics: Options for Governance”, as well as support for discussion of the societal implications of synthetic biology at the past three international synthetic biology meetings: S.B 2.0 (UC Berkeley) S.B 3.0 (Zurich) and S.B 4.0 (Hong Kong).

This program does not support laboratory research in synthetic biology.

Program Director:
Paula Olsiewski Bio