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US Army Engineer Research and Development Center Awards Contract to Science Policy Consulting, LLC

Synthetic Biology Research

The US Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) has awarded a contract to Science Policy Consulting, LLC to identify knowledge and data gaps related to understanding the possible environmental impacts of synthetic biology (SynBio)-enabled technologies and to develop guidance for deployment of these technologies in the environment.

This four-year effort will use case studies to advance the development of a framework to assess the potential environmental impacts of SynBio-enabled technologies, and will include analysis of regulatory requirements and other hurdles for deployment. This framework will be informed by ongoing advances in SynBio research, development, and use.


The Environmental Laboratory (EL) provides relevant, value-added technology supporting the environmental mission of the US Army Corps of Engineers, the Army, the Department of Defense, and the Nation. Headquartered in Vicksburg, Mississippi, the EL’s interdisciplinary staff of over 220 engineers, scientists, technicians, and support personnel plans and executes all phases of the technology development process, from basic research to field implementation to commercialization. The core of EL’s research is focused in the areas of environmental resiliency and ecosystem science and technology. EL conducts cross-cutting research in environmental sensing, ecological modeling and forecasting, and risk and decision science.

About the SynBio Safety Work at ERDC

The objective of ERDC-EL’s SynBio safety work, started in 2016, is to support the safe and responsible use of SynBio-enabled technologies. SynBio holds great promise in delivering new technologies that can be used for Army operations on and off the battlefield. A diversity of applications are possible, including command support, force-projection logistics, energy generation, biosafety and biosecurity, and soldier health. A recent report identified SynBio as one of 24 trends that are “likely to influence the future operating environment and shape warfighting capabilities over the next 30 years” (OSD, 2016). Our goal is to develop a scientifically defensible framework that will support development and deployment of SynBio-enabled technologies by providing guidance, tools, and data for assessing their potential environmental impacts.

For more information, please contact:

Article courtesy of ERDC-EL, adapted. 

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