Biorisk Management Case Study: International Genetically Engineered Machine Foundation

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The Internationally Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Foundation is an international organization that coordinates an annual, world-wide synthetic biology competition. Its risk management process includes multiple reviews during the competition cycle. iGEM’s practices have evolved over time but have focused on enabling individuals from all levels of the synthetic biology community to participate in risk management. iGEM openly shares information about its practices, including publishing policies and risk assessments online and sharing lessons with the life science community. iGEM:
• considers an extensive scope of risks, including laboratory biosafety, dual-use research, environmental release, antimicrobial resistance, human experimentation, human subjects research, and animal use.
• supports teams through online resources, tools, online workshops, and tailored video content in the iGEM Academy.
• uses standardized forms to collect information about the safety and security practices of each team.
• draws on in-house expertise and external consultants for risk assessment, including both volunteers and paid professionals.
• conducts annual reviews and updates of its programs, including safety and security risk management processes.
• rewards innovation through safety-related grants and prizes.


Publication date February 28, 2023; February 2023


Author Alexanian, Tessa
Author Millett, Piers
Author Greene, Daniel ORCiD icon (unverified)
Author Brink, Kathryn ORCiD icon (unverified)
Research team head Palmer, Megan ORCiD icon (unverified)
Research team head Evans, Samuel ORCiD icon (unverified)


Subject Risk management
Genre Other
Genre Case study

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Alexanian, T., Millett, P., Greene, D., and Brink, K. (2023). Biorisk Management Case Study: International Genetically Engineered Machine Foundation. Stanford Digital Repository. Available at


Visibility Initiative for Responsible Science (VIRS): Biorisk Management Casebook and Case Studies

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