It’s rare to hear from a serving Program Manager at DARPA (Defense Advanced 
Research Projects Agency).  This week we do—from Renee Wegrzyn (pronounced 
“WEG-er-zin”)—on the need and potential to build safety into the very fabric of 
gene editing.  What she is promoting—and funding—will be essential for 
biotechnology to live up to its promise in this century.  Some highly ingenious 
tools are already being developed.  As she writes:

New and emerging genome editing technologies are providing unprecedented 
ability to modify genetic material in a manner that is targeted, rapid, 
adaptable, and broadly accessible.  The advances are leading to transformative 
applications across all of biology, ranging from highly personalized 
therapeutics to control of mosquito populations in the wild to reduce 
vector-borne diseases.  The extension of these technologies to gene drives and 
heritable germline editing expands the applications to generational and 
ecosystem-scale uses.

While the potential for societal benefit from these technologies is immense, 
longer-term ramifications, such as the potential for these tools to impact 
large populations of organisms and ecosystems over many generations, must also 
be considered.  Therefore, to support the safe and responsible use of gene 
editors, it is imperative that we innovate and build-in biosafety and 
biosecurity technologies early.  Future applicaitions should include strategies 
to control, counter, and remediate the outcomes of gene editing.  
Co-development of safety measures will ensure the continued rapid pace of 
technological progress and enable novel applications to be accessible to the 
broadest range of communities for public benefit.

Dr. Renee Wegrzyn is a Program Manager at DARPA working to apply the tools of 
synthetic biology to support biosecurity and outpace infectious disease.  
Formerly she was Senior Lead Biotechnologist at Booz Allen Hamilton.

"Engineering Gene Safety," Renee Wegrzyn, SFJAZZ Center, Hayes Valley, San 
Francisco, 7pm, Monday October 30.  The show starts promptly at 7:30pm.

To be sure of a seat:
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• Seminar at SFJAZZ Center <> 201 
Franklin Street, San Francisco, CA 94102
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Share this talk: Renee Wegrzyn, "Engineering Gene Safety" Long Now talk on 
10/30 <>

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