Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Abell Endowed Chair in Synthetic Biology
25th July 2022, 10am - 11am GST
Securing the exchange of engineered DNA in the bioeconomy
Over the last 20 years, the performance of technologies to read and write DNA has progressed much faster Moore’s law describing the evolution of computing technologies. New capabilities have created new opportunities to engineer living organisms that may provide sustainable solutions to the world's most pressing challenges. However, the development of a robust bioeconomy requires securing the exchange of engineered genetic material. Because living organisms can reproduce on their own, it has proved very difficult to track their circulation. Better controlling the dissemination of engineered DNA products would improve productivity, create new opportunities to monetize intellectual property, and increase the situational awareness necessary to detect and prevent the malicious use of these technologies.
Since 2008, our group has worked with government agencies including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Defense and members of the intelligence community to analyze the security implications of engineered DNA 1,2. We pioneered sequence screening technologies to detect biological threats in synthetic DNA orders3. More recently, we developed a digital certificate technology to build robust links between engineered DNA molecules, their authors, and electronic records4-6. Different applications of these technologies will be discussed.
Dr. Peccoud is the Abell Chair in Synthetic Biology in the Department of Chemical & Biological Engineering at Colorado State University. He also holds joint appointments in the Departments of Systems Engineering, Computer Science and the School of Biomedical Engineering at Colorado State University. He is a member of the executive committee of the Cellular and Molecular Biology program. His research program focuses on synthetic biology informatics. His group combines computational and experimental efforts to develop predictive models of behaviors encoded in synthetic DNA sequences. He is particularly interested in using methods from synthetic biology to optimize biomanufacturing processes used to produce biologic drugs, antibodies, and other proteins of commercial interest. Dr. Peccoud is also actively engaged in efforts to understand the security implications of synthetic biology.
Jean Peccoud came to Colorado State University from the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech. He brought with him a diverse experience that includes working for Fortune 500 and start-up companies. He is the founding Editor-in-Chief of the journal Synthetic Biology published by Oxford University Press. His other editorial activities include memberships in the editorial boards of Trends in Biotechnology and Nucleic Acids Research. He is a member of the Engineering Biology Research Consortium Council and the EBRC Security Working Group. He is the founder of GenoFAB, a technology startup whose mission is to increase the productivity of life science research by helping scientists produce more and better data to the pace of product development and basic research.