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Guiding Ethical Principles in Engineering Biology Research

Mackelprang, Rebecca and Aurand, Emily R. and Bovenberg, Roel A. L. and Brink, Kathryn R. and Charo, R. Alta and Delborne, Jason A. and Diggans, James and Ellington, Andrew D. and Fortman, Jeffrey L. “Clem” and Isaacs, Farren J. and Medford, June I. and Murray, Richard M. and Noireaux, Vincent and Palmer, Megan J. and Zoloth, Laurie and Friedman, Douglas C. (2021) Guiding Ethical Principles in Engineering Biology Research. ACS Synthetic Biology, 10 (5). pp. 907-910. ISSN 2161-5063. doi:10.1021/acssynbio.1c00129.

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Engineering biology is being applied toward solving or mitigating some of the greatest challenges facing society. As with many other rapidly advancing technologies, the development of these powerful tools must be considered in the context of ethical uses for personal, societal, and/or environmental advancement. Researchers have a responsibility to consider the diverse outcomes that may result from the knowledge and innovation they contribute to the field. Together, we developed a Statement of Ethics in Engineering Biology Research to guide researchers as they incorporate the consideration of long-term ethical implications of their work into every phase of the research lifecycle. Herein, we present and contextualize this Statement of Ethics and its six guiding principles. Our goal is to facilitate ongoing reflection and collaboration among technical researchers, social scientists, policy makers, and other stakeholders to support best outcomes in engineering biology innovation and development.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Aurand, Emily R.0000-0003-4092-8551
Ellington, Andrew D.0000-0001-6246-5338
Isaacs, Farren J.0000-0001-8615-8236
Medford, June I.0000-0002-0599-4863
Murray, Richard M.0000-0002-5785-7481
Noireaux, Vincent0000-0002-5213-273X
Friedman, Douglas C.0000-0001-7234-4943
Additional Information:© 2021 The Authors. This is an open access article published under an ACS AuthorChoice License, which permits copying and redistribution of the article or any adaptations for non-commercial purposes. Received: March 29, 2021; Published: May 12, 2021. The authors gratefully acknowledge the contribution of the many members of the Engineering Biology Research Consortium who provided direction and feedback. Author Contributions. The authors, excepting the first and senior authors, are listed in alphabetical order. R.M., J.L.F., E.R.A., and D.C.F. were supported by the Department of Homeland Security under Award No. 19STFRG00011-01-00. E.R.A. and D.C.F. were supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) under Award No. 1818248. K.R.B. was supported by the Office of Naval Research N00014-18-1-2611, NSF MCB-1553317, Rice University Nettie S. Autrey Fellowship (2020–2021). A.D.E. was supported by The Welch Foundation F-1654. F.J.I. was supported by NSF awards MCB-1714860, EF-1935120, and IOS-1923321. V.N. was supported by NSF awards MCB-1613677 and MCB-2017932. The views and conclusions contained in this document are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as necessarily representing the official policies, either expressed or implied, of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The authors declare no competing financial interest.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Department of Homeland Security19STFRG00011-01-00
Office of Naval Research (ONR)N00014-18-1-2611
Rice UniversityUNSPECIFIED
Welch FoundationF-1654
Subject Keywords:Physical and chemical processes, Biology, Bioengineering and biotechnology, Genetics, Climate
Issue or Number:5
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20210513-144618998
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Guiding Ethical Principles in Engineering Biology Research. Rebecca Mackelprang, Emily R. Aurand, Roel A. L. Bovenberg, Kathryn R. Brink, R. Alta Charo, Jason A. Delborne, James Diggans, Andrew D. Ellington, Jeffrey L. “Clem” Fortman, Farren J. Isaacs, June I. Medford, Richard M. Murray, Vincent Noireaux, Megan J. Palmer, Laurie Zoloth, and Douglas C. Friedman. ACS Synthetic Biology 2021 10 (5), 907-910; DOI: 10.1021/acssynbio.1c00129
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:109125
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:14 May 2021 14:35
Last Modified:27 May 2021 16:57

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