As part of our recent Building with Biology event here in Boston, we had a fascinating presentation from FBI Special Agent Joshua Canter, who is the Hazardous Evidence Response Team leader for the FBI’s Boston office. Agent Canter talked about biosecurity and the FBI’s work doing outreach to young scientists and members of the DIY Bio community in an effort to make sure that synthetic biology is being done safely and securely. We learned about what it is like to be an FBI agent working on the topic of biosecurity. Agent Canter shared that a major component of his work is helping scientists to consider the potential safety considerations of what they are building, but he emphasized the need to do so in a way that does not slow the pace of innovation in areas such as medicine and clean water where breakthroughs are desperately needed. They also help scientists and industry members to think about issues such as how to safeguard their intellectual work so that it does not fall into the wrong hands, which can be a challenge in an open-source environment such as the synthetic biology field. To help accomplish these ends. the FBI has been a national sponsor of iGEM for several years, with a presence speaking to the teams around their human practices component. Agent Canter talked about one team at last year's Jamboree that changed its project midstream because of biosecurity concerns, and how this actually helped them in the competition.
FBI agents from across the country are constantly talking to scientists and the public about their biosecurity work, so they may be able to provide a field agent to come and participate in Building with Biology events! If you are interested in this potential opportunity for the Building with Biology event you’ll be hosting this summer, please fill out this short form and we’ll send the responses to our contacts at the FBI. If they have an agent in your region who is able to assist in your event you will be contacted as soon as possible.
Wishing you a successful Building with Biology event!
The Building with Biology team