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I’m a Neurobiologist by training and Program Manager by profession, working currently at CERN, the European laboratory for Particle Physics. My educational background is a bachelor in biology at Pierre & Marie Curie University, an advanced master in Molecular & Cellular Biology at Caltech, and several continuous education courses in a wide variety of topics: computational neurosciences, biomedical engineering, CRISPR-Cas9 applications, and bionics engineering.
My professional experience comprises several different positions: research and development project manager at the pharmaceutical company Sanofi, scientific consultant at the consulting spin-off of Cambridge University (with a focus on gene-editing and genome-engineering projects), and founder & CEO of a startup specialized in prosthetics and bionics. All those experiences brought me to work on fields related to the development of bioengineering techniques, either for the development of new monoclonal antibodies or for the modification of the glial cellular response to implants.
I’m working currently in several roles. First, I serve as a Knowledge Transfer Officer at CERN, managing projects in in-silico simulations of biological tissue dynamics, new neuroimaging techniques and machine-learning for drug discovery. My role is a combination of project management, policies and business development to spread those technologies to the industry field. I’m also working as Alliance Partner for the Swiss non-profit Mindfire, an organization dedicated to the development of human level artificial intelligence. In this position, I realize the scouting of disruptive technologies and the crafting of strategic partnerships. Finally, I recently obtained a role as External Advisor for a neuroscience project focused on modulating neuronal activity by ionic actuation at the micro- and nanoscales.
My interest of becoming a Conference Fellow lies in the necessity for me to obtain knowledge on the threats and opportunities posed by synthetic biology on security and safety. As we learned those last years, with the development of new gene-editing and genome sequencing tools, such as TALENS and CRISPR, it is becoming easier and easier to create biological weapons or to recreate extinct pathogens. Recently, in an interview, Bill Gates claimed that the next deadly disease that will cause a global pandemic is coming, and this disease would likely kill more than thirty million people within six months.
Recently, a new threat on biosecurity appeared from a novel field of biological research: the synthetic biology. This new scientific area could be perceived as a tool to modify existing biological codes, but also to re-design or re-write systems from scratch. Hence, this field is bringing major benefits to the society, from the improvement of pharmaceutical or agricultural products to the possibility of bio-mimicry to enhance artificial technologies. But as most of the promising areas in biology and genetics, this one also brings new types of threat to biosecurity. With this duality threat/benefits, synthetic biology can be seen as what we could call a dual use research field.
To bring a more detailed view on this security issue, it is needed to empathize on the possibility opened by the discoveries and applications made in synthetic biology to end up in the hands of bioterrorists trying to use them for criminal objectives. This threat created by a misuse of the new technology is nowhere just a mere hypothesis, and I believe it is an absolute necessity for companies and public institutions to realize research in synthetic biology, to seek potential ideas to solve governance issues on this type of bio-risks.
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