Environment Systems and Decisions

, Volume 38, Issue 4, pp 517–527 | Cite as

Development of community of practice to support quantitative risk assessment for synthetic biology products: contaminant bioremediation and invasive carp control as cases

  • Benjamin D. Trump
  • Christy Foran
  • Taylor Rycroft
  • Matthew D. Wood
  • Nirzwan Bandolin
  • Mariana Cains
  • Timothy Cary
  • Fiona Crocker
  • Nicholas A. Friedenberg
  • Patrick Gurian
  • Kerry Hamilton
  • Jan Jeffrey Hoover
  • Corey Meyer
  • Kaytee Pokrzywinski
  • Ryan Ritterson
  • Paul Schulte
  • Christopher Warner
  • Edward Perkins
  • Igor LinkovEmail author


Synthetic biology has the potential for a broad array of applications. However, realization of this potential is challenged by the paucity of relevant data for conventional risk assessment protocols, a limitation due to to the relative nascence of the field, as well as the poorly characterized and prioritized hazard, exposure, and dose–response considerations associated with the development and use of synthetic biology-derived organisms. Where quantitative risk assessment approaches are necessarily to fulfill regulatory requirements for review of products containing genetically modified organisms, this paper reviews one potential avenue for early-stage quantitative risk assessment for biosafety considerations of synthetic biology organism deployment into the environment. Building from discussion from a March 2018 US Army Engineer Research and Development Center workshop on developing such quantitative risk assessment for synthetic biology, this paper reviews the findings and discussion of workshop participants. This paper concludes that, while synthetic biology risk assessment and governance will continue to refine and develop in the coming years, a quantitative framework that builds from existing practice is one potentially beneficial option for risk assessors that must contend with the technology’s limited hazard characterization or exposure assessment considerations in the near term.


Synthetic biology Risk assessment Technology governance 



This work was funded in part by the US Army Environmental Quality Research Program (63372803E00).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no competing financial interest.


The ideas represented in this paper are the solely the opinions of the authors, and may not represent the view of their affiliated institutions.


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Copyright information

© This is a U.S. Government work and not under copyright protection in the US; foreign copyright protection may apply 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Benjamin D. Trump
    • 1
    • 2
  • Christy Foran
    • 3
  • Taylor Rycroft
    • 3
  • Matthew D. Wood
    • 3
    • 4
  • Nirzwan Bandolin
    • 5
  • Mariana Cains
    • 6
  • Timothy Cary
    • 7
  • Fiona Crocker
    • 3
  • Nicholas A. Friedenberg
    • 8
  • Patrick Gurian
    • 9
  • Kerry Hamilton
    • 10
  • Jan Jeffrey Hoover
    • 3
  • Corey Meyer
    • 11
  • Kaytee Pokrzywinski
    • 3
  • Ryan Ritterson
    • 11
  • Paul Schulte
    • 12
  • Christopher Warner
    • 3
  • Edward Perkins
    • 3
  • Igor Linkov
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.ORISEConcordUSA
  2. 2.US Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Environmental LaboratoryConcordUSA
  3. 3.US Army Corps of Engineers, Engineer Research and Development CenterVicksburgUSA
  4. 4.Aptima, Inc.WoburnUSA
  5. 5.Office of the Secretary of DefenseArlingtonUSA
  6. 6.School of Public and Environmental AffairsIndiana University BloomingtonBloomingtonUSA
  7. 7.US Army Corps of Engineers, Engineer Research and Development CenterHanoverUSA
  8. 8.Applied BiomathematicsNew YorkUSA
  9. 9.Drexel UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA
  10. 10.Arizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  11. 11.Gryphon Scientific, LLCTakoma ParkUSA
  12. 12.National Institute for Occupational Safety and HealthCincinnatiUSA

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