Mosquitoes being released

Biosecurity and Global Health

Biology and global health will heavily influence security in the coming decades, posing critical challenges for humanity and international cooperation across borders.

Developing biosecurity strategies in a changing world

Biological threats include naturally emerging infectious diseases, unintended consequences of advances in science and technology, and the deliberate misuse of biology and their associated technologies. Key social, political and environmental factors affect these risks and our ability to reduce them. Our research seeks to understand and solve these challenges, while promoting the beneficial uses of science that protect societies.

At the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC), we are focused on analyzing the advances in science and technology that are changing the international security landscape. Much is happening now, as rapid advances in the biological sciences and technology continue to expand our insights and tools to better confront these threats.

These advances offer both benefits and risks. For example, while access to new technologies may enable the engineering of new biological threats, they may also generate new countermeasures to manage disease outbreaks. At the same time, the misuse of these technologies could have devastating impacts on large numbers of people and ecosystems.

As a result, a growing need exists to understand, anticipate and reduce such biological threats. Our CISAC faculty, partners and students are working to illuminate problems and identify practical solutions in biosecurity and global health. Topics of interest include:

  • Understanding the trends, sources and nature of the risks in life sciences research and development;

  • Creating risk-reducing strategies for researchers and practitioners;

  • Establishing norms and practices in the life sciences communities;

  • Developing and testing governance models and approaches across different settings.

CISAC is a core partner in the new Biosecurity Initiative at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (website forthcoming). This initiative will focus work in biosecurity at Stanford, deepening connections among diverse experts and disciplines, including biology, engineering, medicine, law and the social sciences. Our ultimate goal is to protect humanity while advancing the science of biology and global health in positive, constructive ways.

 
Petri dish under a microscope

Cross-campus collaboration

Connecting experts and disciplines, including biology, engineering, medicine, law and the social sciences

H1N1 virus

Studying biological threats

Understanding and addressing risks while advancing beneficial scientific progress

CISAC Core Researchers

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David A. Relman

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David A. Relman

Thomas C. and Joan M. Professor of Microbiology and Immunology
David A. Relman (Medicine; Microbiology & Immunology) researches the human indigenous microbiota (microbiome), the nature and mechanisms of variation in patterns of microbial diversity and function in humans, and previously-uncharacterized pathogens...
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Megan Palmer

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Megan Palmer

Senior Research Scholar
Megan Palmer researches the complex governance challenges that accompany rapidly increasing global access to biotechnology...

Affiliated Faculty

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Mildred Cho

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Mildred Cho

Professor (Research) of Pediatrics, Center for Biomedical Ethics, and of Medicine
Mildred Cho (Medicine) studies ethical and social issues in genetic research, stem cell research, bioweapons and microbial genome research.
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Drew Endy

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Drew Endy

Associate Professor of Bioengineering
Drew Endy (Bioengineering) is a pioneer of synthetic biology who co-founded the International Genetically Engineered Machines (iGEM) Competition and co-leads the Stanford Joint Initiative for Metrology in Biology (JIMB).
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Francis Fukuyama

Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies
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Francis Fukuyama

Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies
Mossbacher Director of CDDRL
Francis Fukuyama researches democracy, international political economy, and strategic and security issues, including the impact of disruptive technologies.
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Henry T. Greely

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Henry T. Greely

Deane F. and Kate Edelman Johnson Professor of Law
Hank Greely (Law) specializes in the ethical, legal, and social implications of new biomedical technologies, particularly those related to neuroscience, genetics, and stem cell research.
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Herb Lin

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Herb Lin

Senior Research Scholar for Cyber Policy and Security
Herb Lin (CISAC and Hoover Institution) researches the policy-related dimensions of cybersecurity and cyberspace. He has studied the intersection of cyber and biotechnology and its implications for national security.
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Douglas K. Owens

Center director, Stanford Health Policy
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Douglas K. Owens

Center director, Stanford Health Policy
Henry J. Kaiser, Jr. Professor, Medicine
Doug Owens (Medicine) researches topics including technology assessment and methods for clinical decision making and guideline development.
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Tim Stearns

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Tim Stearns

Professor, Biology
Tim Stearns (Biology) is a researcher in human biology and genetics. He is also member of JASON, an independent group of scientists which advises the United States government on matters of science and technology.
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Lawrence M. Wein

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Lawrence M. Wein

Jeffrey Skoll Professor of Management Science, Graduate School of Business
Lawrence M. Wein (Management Science) is a researcher in management sciences who has studied emergency responses to bioterrorism and mathematical models in operations management, medicine and biology.
While the ongoing growth of biotechnology is a great boon for society, it also holds serious potential for destructive use
President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology
November 2016