woman smiling

Megan Palmer, PhD

  • Senior Director of Public Impact at Ginkgo Bioworks
  • CISAC Affiliate

616 Jane Stanford Way
Suite C238
Stanford, CA 94305-6165

(650) 725-8929 (voice)

Biography

Dr. Megan J. Palmer is the Executive Director of Bio Policy & Leadership Initiatives at Stanford University (Bio-polis). In this role, Dr. Palmer leads integrated research, teaching and engagement programs to explore how biological science and engineering is shaping our societies, and to guide innovation to serve public interests. Based in the Department of Bioengineering, she works closely both with groups across the university and with stakeholders in academia, government, industry and civil society around the world.

In addition to fostering broader efforts, Dr. Palmer leads a focus area in biosecurity in partnership with the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI) at Stanford. Projects in this area examine how security is conceived and managed as biotechnology becomes increasingly accessible. Her current projects include assessing strategies for governing dual use research, analyzing the diffusion of safety and security norms and practices, and understanding the security implications of alternative technology design decisions.

Dr. Palmer has created and led many programs aimed at developing and promoting best practices and policies for the responsible development of bioengineering. For the last ten years she has led programs in safety, security and social responsibility for the international Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition, which last year involved over 6000 students in 353 teams from 48 countries. She also founded and serves as Executive Director of the Synthetic Biology Leadership Excellence Accelerator Program (LEAP), an international fellowship program in biotechnology leadership. She advises and works with many other organizations on their strategies for the responsible development of bioengineering, including serving on the board of directors of Revive & Restore, a nonprofit organization advancing biotechnologies for conservation.

Previously, Megan was a Senior Research Scholar and William J. Perry Fellow in International Security at the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC), part of FSI, where she is now an affiliated researcher. She also spent five years as Deputy Director of Policy and Practices for the multi-university NSF Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center (Synberc). She has previously held positions as a project scientist at the California Center for Quantitative Bioscience at the University of California Berkeley (where she was an affiliate of Lawrence Berkeley National Labs), and a postdoctoral scholar in the Bioengineering Department at Stanford University. Dr. Palmer received her Ph.D. in Biological Engineering from M.I.T. and a B.Sc.E. in Engineering Chemistry from Queen’s University, Canada.

 

publications

Journal Articles
December 2022

Strengthen Oversight of Risky Research on Pathogens

Author(s)
Strengthen Oversight of Risky Research on Pathogens
Policy Briefs
December 2018

Editing Biosecurity: Needs and Strategies for Governing Genome Editing

Author(s)
Editing Biosecurity: Needs and Strategies for Governing Genome Editing
Journal Articles
July 2017

On Defining Global Catastrophic Biological Risks

Author(s)
On Defining Global Catastrophic Biological Risks

In The News

Biorisk
News

The Biorisk Management Casebook: Insights into Contemporary Practices

“This Casebook is an initial step at addressing a major gap in biorisk governance today"
The Biorisk Management Casebook: Insights into Contemporary Practices
Mutating virus variant and cell mutation variants as a health risk concept and new coronavirus outbreak or covid-19 viral cells mutations and influenza background as a 3D render.
News

Stanford Researchers Recommend Stronger Oversight of Risky Research on Pathogens

In Science magazine, Stanford researchers Megan Palmer and David Relman are among co-authors recommending a reset of U.S. and global policy to address the gaps and challenges of current guidance.
Stanford Researchers Recommend Stronger Oversight of Risky Research on Pathogens
1 Perry&Saxe
News

Perry Fellows take on the policy of bioengineering, military doctrine and nuclear deterrence

Perry Fellows take on the policy of bioengineering, military doctrine and nuclear deterrence
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