I am currently writing this textbook with Catherine Jefferson, Claire Marris and Nikolas Rose. Aimed at undergraduates, postgraduates and established researchers, the textbook will provide an authoritative guide on the key security questions raised by developments in synthetic biology: Will they enable the creation of dangerous viruses from scratch? Will scientific advances enable radically new pathogens not found in nature to be designed? Is synthetic biology breaking down the boundary between experts and non-experts to such an extent that anyone will be able to develop a biological weapon?
Drawing on years of experience working with synthetic biologists, we tackle these questions head on in our assessment of whether the misuse potential of synthetic biology is realistic or exaggerated. Through an accessible and engaging narrative that highlights key messages, questions for discussion and classroom exercises, readers are expertly led through the complex technical, historical, social, political and legal landscape at the intersection of synthetic biology and security.
The book builds on the joint venture between our team of social scientists at King’s College London and the Imperial team of synthetic biologists to establish the Centre for Synthetic Biology and Innovation (CSynBI) and the tremendous success of Synthetic Biology: A Primer which came out of that joint venture. The idea behind Synthetic Biology & Bioweapons is to provide a companion textbook to Synthetic Biology: A Primer that expands the societal impact chapter of the primer through a detailed look at the security concerns raised by the field.
Synthetic Biology & Bioweapons is forthcoming and will be published by World Scientific.