Sackler Forum: Trends in synthetic biology and gain of function and regulatory implications

30 September 2016

Since 2008, the Raymond and Beverly Sackler US – UK scientific forums have sparked new excitement and enthusiasm for the exchange of ideas among through leaders from the United States and United Kingdom on topics of worldwide scientific concern. 

The Sackler Forum 2015 was held from 15-17 November 2015 at the Kavli Royal Society International Centre in Buckinghamshire, UK. It focussed on synthetic biology and gain of function and the regulatory implications of developments in these fields. 

The organising Committee which developed the Forum and reviewed the report, consisted of: 

  • Professor Jef Boeke, Director, Institute for System Genetics
  • Professor Paul Freemont, Head of Structural Biology, Department of Medicine, Imperial College
  • Diane Griffin, Vice President, National Academy of Sciences
  • Professor Peter Kim, Department of Biochemistry, Stanford University School of Medicine
  • Professor Robert Lamb, Northwestern University Medical School and Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute
  • Sir John Skehel FRS FMedSci, Biological Secretary, Royal Society

The forum brought together approximately 50 participants from academia, government, industrial, regulatory and non-governmental organisations. The two day meeting covered presentations on cutting edge developments in the science and considered the impact that these might have for governance and regulation. 

The summary of the forum is drawn from the comments made by participants at the meeting, but does not reflect a consensus of those present. However, the observations and proposed actions in this report provide an overview of the opportunities and challenges of advances in synthetic biology and gain of function and the regulation of these technologies from a group of people working at the forefront of the field.