Arthur Hopkins: DoD Invests in Synthetic Biology Threat Defense, Countermeasures

The Defense Department has begun to develop strategies to prepare for and mitigate  security threats from synthetic bioweapons, DoD News reported Thursday.

Arthur Hopkins, acting assistant secretary for nuclear, chemical and biological defense programs at DoD, told a House subcommittee Thursday that DoD’s Chemical and Biological Defense Program explores medical countermeasures as well as protective equipment and detection systems intended to address chemical and biological threats, Cheryl Pellerin wrote.

The report said synthetic biology involves the use of techniques and tools to sequence, synthesize and manipulate genetic material.

“The same tools of synthetic biology that we’re concerned about as being capable of being used against us, we are also using in the laboratories to help develop countermeasures,” said Hopkin.

“We want to make sure that the things that we do to protect ourselves don’t interfere with … [applying] the technology for peaceful, useful purposes,” he added.

Hopkins noted that DoD has called on the National Academy of Sciences to conduct an interagency study on the potential impact of emerging threats on national security.

DoD’s response to future threats would fall into the areas of detection, protection and mitigation, according to Hopkins.

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