Assistant Professor Karmella Haynes has been invited to join the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity, a National Institutes of Health body that advises the government on proper oversight of federally conducted dual-use biological research. These projects have important scientific purposes, but they also could prove harmful if misused.
Haynes is joining the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity, a federal advisory committee chartered to provide “advice, guidance, and leadership” for what the U.S. government terms dual-use research — in other words, research with legitimate and important scientific purpose that could also yield technologies or information that could prove harmful if misused. Haynes will serve a three-year term.
“While I don't deeply investigate biocontainment in my own research, I care about it and have spoken up about it because I care about the broader, real human impact of biotechnology,” said Haynes, an assistant professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University.
Haynes has been involved in biosafety and biocontainment issues for several years, previously serving on an advisory panel on the topic for the L. Craig Venter Institute and actively reviewing grants in the area for the Joint Genome Engineering Institute. She also has spoken to Congress about synthetic biology and been invited to international conversations about synthetic biology.
“I hope to offer a lucid perspective on what we should be concerned about versus what people are suspicious or scared of,” Haynes said, “and to remind policymakers that the greatest enemy is uncertainty, not necessarily the biotech. The greatest solution to uncertainty is proactive science, not moratoriums.”
As a member of the advisory board, Haynes will help develop recommendations for proper oversight of federally conducted dual-use biological research, balancing the needs of the research community with national security concerns.