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Harnessing Innovative Biotechnologies for National Security in Material and Human Dimensions: Abridged Version (2023)

Chapter: Harnessing Innovative Biotechnologies for National Security in Material and Human Dimensions

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Suggested Citation:"Harnessing Innovative Biotechnologies for National Security in Material and Human Dimensions." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Harnessing Innovative Biotechnologies for National Security in Material and Human Dimensions: Abridged Version. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27023.
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HARNESSING INNOVATIVE BIOTECHNOLOGIES FOR NATIONAL SECURITY IN MATERIAL AND HUMAN DIMENSIONS

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine established a standing committee in 2021 focused on novel and convergent life science and biotechnology research. The standing committee is charged to identify and explore in detail new and emerging research and development of biotechnologies of potential interest. The standing committee’s effort is, in part, horizon scanning of new research, technologies, and possible applications, and in uncovering the scientific and technological foundation of those developments, responsible innovation considerations, and workforce, infrastructure, and data needs, as appropriate. Each month, the standing committee members meet at an unclassified level to discuss scientific and technological developments within and beyond their fields of expertise, add to its growing list of research and biotechnology development of possible interest to the U.S. government, and select topics to focus on in greater detail. The standing committee has held four unclassified workshops during which committee members have examined particular fields in greater detail: (1) wearables to detect neurological signals and volatile organic compounds (January 2022), (2) biologically based information transmission and encryption (January 2022), (3) the microbiome–gut–brain axis (December 2022), and (4) biohybrid and bioinspired materials (January 2023). These workshops were held at the unclassified level to include research from uncleared scientists who are pushing the envelope in their fields. A summary of the discussions from the workshops is published in an unclassified Proceedings of a Workshop—in Brief.

Based in part on the workshop discussions, a subset of the standing committee members who are cleared experts served on a consensus study committee to translate the life science research and biotechnology developments to mission-specific needs of the national security community. The Statement of Task for the consensus study committee is included in Box 1. The committee’s first report focused on the use of biology for information transmission and communication.

The current report provides insights about how research advances in biohybrid and bioinspired materials and the microbiome–gut–brain axis can be leveraged, and how to determine whether these research advances in these fields are being exploited by adversary or malicious actors. The report provides findings, conclusions, and recommendations for further investment; for evaluation of ethical, regulatory, and environmental issues; and for recognizing and addressing harmful exploitation of these advances by other countries.

Suggested Citation:"Harnessing Innovative Biotechnologies for National Security in Material and Human Dimensions." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Harnessing Innovative Biotechnologies for National Security in Material and Human Dimensions: Abridged Version. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27023.
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This publication is the unclassified summary of a classified consensus report linking advanced biotechnologies to national security capability needs and identifying potential pathways for their adoption.

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