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The Newsletter of the National Academy of Sciences' Committee on Science, Technology, and Law
May 2013
Volume 4, Number 1


We are pleased to present the latest issue of the Committee on Science, Technology, and Law newsletter, a semi-annual report on the activities, projects, and people of the National Academy of Sciences’ Committee on Science, Technology, and Law (CSTL).  CSTL was established by the National Academy of Sciences in 1998 to examine the growing number of areas where science, engineering, and law intersect in this era of increasing globalization. It is the leading national committee that brings figures in science, engineering, and medicine together with members of the legal and policy communities for discussions about critical issues of mutual interest and concern.  The committee meets bi-annually in a roundtable setting that provides a unique forum for intellectual inquiry and debate.  Through its reports and activities, CSTL brings widespread attention to issues of pressing national and international concern. The committee considers challenging issues at the nexus of science and law from three perspectives: 1) how law influences and constrains the practice of scientific and engineering research (law in the laboratory); 2) how scientists and engineers participate in, and how their work is used by, the legal community (science in the courts); and 3) public policy formation, including looking at the uses and misuses of science in shaping public policy at the confluence of the scientific, engineering, medical, and legal arenas.  For more information about CSTL, contact Anne-Marie Mazza at


25th CSTL Meeting

The next meeting of the Committee on Science, Technology, and Law will be held on May 13-14, 2013 at the National Academy of Sciences’ Building in Washington, DC. The meeting will feature panel discussions of the following topics: 1) Rethinking the U.S. Patent System; 2) Additive Manufacturing: The Next Transformational Technology?; and 3) Advancing Life Sciences Research of Concern in a Globally Networked World. For more information about the May and future meetings, please contact Steven Kendall at 202-334-1713 or


National Institute of Justice Funds Latent Fingerprint Interoperability Survey

During 2011 and 2012, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) developed a Latent Fingerprint Interoperability Survey (LFIOS) for the purposes of collecting data on state and local law enforcement agencies that maintain an automated fingerprint identification system (AFIS).  The survey is intended to help law enforcement and government administrators, legislators and researchers understand the technological and regulatory barriers affecting automated, cross-jurisdictional interoperability. It is motivated, in part, by the need identified in the 2009 CSTL report, Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward.  The report noted that, “Great improvement is possible with respect to AFIS interoperability. Many crimes no doubt go unsolved today simply because investigating agencies cannot search across all the individual databases that might hold a suspect's fingerprints or contain a match for an unidentified latent print from a crime scene. It is possible,” the report observed, “that some perpetrators have gone free because of the limitations on fingerprint searches."

On March 28, 2013, NIJ announced that it had allocated funds to conduct the survey.  LFIOS will collect data about the vendors being used, AFIS use patterns, and jurisdictions with which law enforcement agencies currently share information.  According to NIJ, the resulting information will provide a comprehensive qualitative and quantitative basis to make specific decisions to improve interoperability related to latent fingerprints to maximize the value of this type of forensic evidence in an equitable way based on the available evidence and data.

Forensic Science Report Project Information

Reference Manual on Scientific Evidence, Third Edition

As of April 23, 2013, CSTL’s Reference Manual on Scientific Evidence, Third Edition, has been downloaded nearly 15,000 times.*  The Manual, along with thousands of National Academies’ reports, is available for download without charge at  The Manual is routinely cited in judicial opinions.  Recently, for example, the Manual’s “Reference Guide on Economic Damages” was cited by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in his majority opinion in Comcast Corporation v. Behrend.

*This number does not reflect the copies downloaded from the website of the Federal Judicial Center.  The Federal Judicial Center produced the first two editions of the Manual and collaborated with CSTL on the third edition.

Reference Manual Project Information

Intentional Human Dosing Studies for EPA Regulatory Purposes: Scientific and Ethical Issues

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency practices have come under scrutiny as the result of experiments where human test subjects were deliberately exposed to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) to allow Agency doctors to measure the health effects of such exposure.  The EPA referred to the 2004 CSTL report, Intentional Human Dosing Studies for EPA Regulatory Purposes: Scientific and Ethical Issues, when responding to the controversy.  See


CSTL Welcomes New Member Harry T. Edwards

CSTL welcomes new member Harry T. Edwards, Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.  Judge Edwards co-chaired the CSTL committee that authored Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward.  He was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals in February 1980 and served as Chief Judge from September 15, 1994 until July 15, 2001, taking senior status on November 3, 2005. Judge Edwards has co-authored five books and published scores of law review articles on federal courts, legal education, professionalism, judicial administration, labor law, equal opportunity, and higher education law. His most recent book, Edwards, Elliott, & Levy, Federal Standards of Review, was published by Thomson/Reuters in 2013. Since joining the Court of Appeals, he has taught law at Harvard, Michigan, Duke, Pennsylvania, and Georgetown. He is presently a Professor of Law at the New York University School of Law, where he has taught since 1990.

CSTL Member Margaret Marshall Featured in Winter Edition of Harvard’s Ed. Magazine / Named Senior Fellow of the Yale Corporation

The Winter 2013 edition of Ed., the Magazine of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, featured an article that describes the extraordinary career of CSTL Member Margaret Marshall, retired Chief Justice of the of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts.  The article chronicles Marshall’s childhood and adolescence in South Africa, her education and activities at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and Yale Law School, and her subsequent career as a jurist on the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts.

On April 3, Marshall was named senior fellow of the Yale Corporation, the governing board and policy-making body for Yale University.  The Yale Corporation is chaired by the president of the university and is presided over by the senior fellow when the president is absent.

CSTL Member Elizabeth Blackburn Profiled in NY Times

On April 8, 2013, The New York Times published an interview with CSTL Member Elizabeth Blackburn, Morris Herzstein Professor in Biology and Physiology in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco.  In the article, entitled "Charting Her Own Course,” Blackburn discusses the value of tests designed to measure the length of telomeres – fragments of DNA at the ends of chromosomes that protect them from deterioration.  “Unusually short telomeres may be a sign of illness,” and Blackburn believes that “measuring them could give doctors and patients a chance to intervene early and maybe even prevent disease.”  Blackburn hopes “that measuring telomeres will become part of a new direction in medicine, geared to what she calls ‘intercepting’ disease.”



Forum on Synthetic Biology

CSTL has established a forum for discussions about scientific, technical, ethical, legal, regulatory, security, and other policy issues associated with synthetic biology.  The Forum will stimulate dialogue about issues of mutual interest to its membership by serving as a venue in which to discuss scientific advances in, challenges and opportunities for, and public policy concerns about synthetic biology.  The Forum will meet three times in a period of one year with options for two additional years. It may commission papers to inform its discussions and suggest topics for studies, workshops, or other public meetings to be held in conjunction with Forum meetings.

Six Party Symposia on Synthetic Biology

Under the auspices of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), CSTL and the Board on Life Sciences organized, in conjunction with the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), Royal Society (RS), Royal Academy of Engineering (RAE), Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE), three symposia on synthetic biology in 2011-2012.  The symposia built on a successful 2009 collaboration between the Royal Society, NAS/NAE, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) when these organizations partnered to sponsor an international symposium in Washington, D.C. entitled, Opportunities and Challenges in the Emerging Field of Synthetic Biology. The first symposium, which was held in the U.K. in April 2011, provided an overview of synthetic biology and developments in the past 5 years; an estimate of what might be achieved in the next 5, 10, and 25 year periods; the requirements and resources necessary for realizing value creation from synthetic biology; and the necessary conditions for an enabling environment.  The focus of the October 2012 symposium in China was scientific and technical challenges that must be met to enable further development of the field.  The June 2012 U.S. symposium focused on next-generation tools, platforms, and infrastructure necessary for continued progress in synthetic biology, and the associated policy implications.  For more information on the symposium series, visit  A summary report of the symposia proceedings will be issued early summer. 


Responsive Oversight of Emerging Technologies: Legal, Ethical, and Regulatory Challenges
CSTL proposes to appoint an ad hoc committee to organize an exploratory workshop to consider the range of legal, ethical and governance issues associated with emerging technologies that will 1) identify principles to guide researchers and their institutions, policy makers, research funders, and others in developing appropriate administrative, legal, ethical, and regulatory responses to prevent or minimize adverse impacts from emerging technologies; 2) identify appropriate governmental and private sector institutions to provide leadership for addressing limitations and gaps in existing regulatory and oversight regimes; 3) identify policy mechanisms that might be developed for the purposes of responding to emerging technologies; and 4) consider when and how to engage the press and public in discussions regarding regulatory and governance issues associated with emerging sciences and new technologies.

Preparing the Next Generation of Policy Makers for Science-Based Policy Decisions

CSTL proposes to appoint an ad hoc committee to oversee the development of an educational mission statement, modules, and contextual materials that elucidate the role of science in decision-making for professional school students.  The committee will survey existing courses and materials germane to the role of science in decision-making.  Informed by the results of the survey, the committee will then solicit proposals for the development of new material, evaluate submitted proposals, and review and approve module submissions.  Materials will be designed by faculty for use in courses designed to improve scientific understanding among legal, policy, and business students, either as parts of a course or as a course itself.  The modules will be structured to explicate core competencies in science and technology through illustrative case studies.  After modules have been approved by the committee, the committee will organize a one-day meeting to disseminate information about the project and modules to relevant faculty/stakeholders.  Initially, the modules will be posted on the National Academies website.

Implications of Neuroscience and Cognitive Psychology Research for Understanding and Maximizing the Reliability of Eyewitness Identifications

CSTL proposes to convene an ad hoc committee to review the state of research in neuroscience and cognitive psychology as it pertains to eyewitness identification.  The committee will recommend best practices for law enforcement officials in cases involving eyewitness identification and for the courts in the development of jury instructions for the assessment of eyewitness identification evidence.