Dr. Todd Kuiken is a Senior Research Scholar with the Genetic Engineering and Society Center at NC State University where he explores the scientific and technological frontier, stimulating discovery and bringing new tools to bear on public policy challenges that emerge as science advances. He has numerous projects evaluating and designing new research and governance strategies to proactively address the biosafety, biosecurity and environmental opportunities/risks associated with emerging genetic technologies. He previously was the principal investigator on the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Synthetic Biology Project.
In September 2016 he received a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to enable the fast-growing ecosystem of “DIY” health innovators to develop a culture of responsibility that reflects its pluralistic and open-source ethos. In addition, he is collaborating
on a project to ensure safety and security within the rapidly expanding community of amateur biologists and the growing network of community laboratories and maker spaces. The initiative is evaluating the current capabilities of the community and developing programs around the potential biosafety and biosecurity threats associated with such a diffuse community. More recently, in partnership with Genspace, he received a grant from the Open Philanthropy Foundation to evaluate and support the creation of biosafety and biosecurity practices in DIYbio labs.
Dr. Kuiken is a member of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity Ad-Hoc Technical Expert Group on Synthetic Biology. In addition, he is working with the United Nations Treaty for Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture to assess how changes in science and technology, mainly de-materialization and digitization of data, will affect the structure, function and viability of the Treaty. He is also a member of the human practices committee of the International Genetically Engineered Machines competition and a founding member of its biosafety/biosecurity committee. Dr. Kuiken has provided expert testimony in front of the U.S. National Security Agency Advisory Board, the U.S. National Academies of Science, the United Nations Bioweapons Convention, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, has been featured on NPR’s Science Friday, and is a regular speaker on public policy issues related to nanotechnology and synthetic biology.
After completing his B.S. in Environmental Management and Technology at Rochester Institute of Technology he worked directly with renowned scientists on the biogeochemical cycling of mercury at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. He earned an M.A. in Environmental and Resource Policy from The George Washington University concentrating on the scientific, economic and community development aspects of environmental issues. While there he worked at various environmental non-profits including the National Wildlife Federation where he worked within the Clean the Rain campaign that dealt with the environmental and public health threats associated with mercury pollution. Dr. Kuiken earned his Ph.D. from Tennessee Tech University where his research focused on the air/surface exchange of mercury associated with forest ecosystems. As part of his dissertation he synthesized these results with other studies associated with mercury cycling, public health threats and policy alternatives to bring attention to the threats and need for an improved public policy dealing with mercury pollution.