July 26, 2019
Staff Accomplishment

Egbert and Zucker Lend Expertise to National Engineering Biology Roadmap

Jason McDermott’s artwork also featured in document

Researcher taking a sample from a petri dish

Following a National Academies 2015 report, Industrialization of Biology, the Engineering Biology Research Consortium began to outline a roadmap that would serve as a 10 – 20 year outlook of challenges and opportunities in engineering biology. Three PNNL Biological Science’s researchers were invited to participate. Rob Egbert contributed to the Host & DNA engineering and Energy sections, Jeremy Zucker contributed to the Data Science and Environmental Biotechnology sections, and an illustration by Jason McDermott, PNNL’s resident cartoonist, was cited in the report.

“It was a daunting, yet exciting task,” said Egbert. “It’s a tremendous help to scientists, as well as potential sponsors, to understand the needs and priorities of engineering biology so that the entire research community can work together to solve some big problems.”

Egbert and Zucker were two of 62 contributors, in addition to the consortium’s leadership and working group. In all, roughly 80 scientists (including one other from a national laboratory) worked on the roadmap.

“For my part, I focused on the challenges of automating the Design-Build-Test-Learn (DBTL) cycle, particularly converting measurements to actionable insights in the next iteration of the cycle. I also raised concerns about the ethical, legal, and societal impacts of engineering biology to solve environmental problems,” said Zucker. “Based on discussions, I think the work we’re doing at PNNL within the Agile BioFoundry to address these issues is important to the broader synthetic biology community.”

Published: July 26, 2019

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