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The Newsletter of the National Academy of Sciences' Committee on Science, Technology, and Law
December 2013
Volume 4, Number 2


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


CSTL Honors Departing Co-chairs

On Monday, November 18, 2013, CSTL celebrated the service of departing co-chairs David Korn (Consultant in Pathology, Massachusetts General Hospital and Professor of Pathology, Harvard Medical School) and Richard A. Meserve (President, Carnegie Institution for Science and Senior Of Counsel, Covington & Burling LLP).  Past and present CSTL members, colleagues, family, and friends gathered in Washington for a celebratory dinner to honor Korn and Meserve’s many years of service to the committee as members and then co-chairs.

26th CSTL Meeting

CSTL's 26th meeting was held on November 18-19, 2013 at the National Academies' Keck Center in Washington, DC. The meeting featured panel discussions of the following topics: 1) Are New Laws and Regulations Needed for New Uses of Space?; 2) Ethical, Legal, and Societal Implications of De-Extinction Research Activities; 3) Governance of Emerging Technologies; 4) Governance of Biomedicine and Health Innovation for Alzheimer’s and Dementia; 5) Faculty Burden – An Update on the National Science Board Report; 6) Developing U.S. Government Policy for the Oversight of Dual Use Research of Concern; and 7) Issues with the Publication and Replication of Scientific Studies. For more information about the November and future meetings, please contact Steven Kendall at 202-334-1713 or

First Meeting of Committee on Eyewitness Identification

On December 2-3, 2013, CSTL, in conjunction with the National Academy of Sciences' Committee on Law and Justice (CLAJ,) hosted the first meeting of the Committee on Scientific Approaches to Understanding and Maximizing the Validity and Reliability of Eyewitness Identification in Law Enforcement and the Courts: Phase I: Social Sciences.  The next meeting of the committee will be on February 6-7, 2014 in Washington, DC.

Forum on Synthetic Biology - Recent Activities 

CSTL's Forum on Synthetic Biology held its inaugural meeting in Washington on October 21, 2013.  In addition, the forum co-sponsored two activities; a July 2013 workshop at Imperial College London entitled Ownership and Sharing: Setting the Patent Framework for Innovation in Synthetic Biology (a summary report of the workshop is forthcoming) and an August 2013 panel discussion at the U.S. Department of State on synthetic biology and its relationship to key challenges faced by the international community.


CSTL Forensic Science Report Continues to Inspire Legislative and Scientific Reform Efforts

On September 9, 2013 U.S. Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson, Ranking Member of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology introduced H.R. 3064, the Forensic Science and Standards Act of 2013.  The bill is similar to legislation introduced by Johnson and Senator Jay Rockefeller in the previous Congress.

On June 26, 2013, Rockefeller chaired a U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation hearing entitled, From the Lab Bench to the Courtroom: Advancing the Science and Standards of Forensics.  The hearing focused on the need to advance forensic research and standards, the challenges faced by the forensic science community, and the need for federal legislation in addressing these issues. 

On July 18, 2013, the Senate Appropriations Committee submitted a report wherein the committee supported the Obama Administration’s “proposal to create Centers of Excellence that will produce collaborations between the National Institute of Standards [NIST] and Technology, academic, and industry specialists on research focused on innovations in measurement science and new technology developments.”  The committee encouraged “NIST to create at least one Center of Excellence with a focus on forensic measurement science, technology, and standards. Interdisciplinary research to enhance forensic science,” the committee noted, was one of the recommendations made by CSTL’s 2009 report, Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward.  Also on July 18, “the Innocence Project, the National Association for Criminal Defense Lawyers and its partners announced a[n]…agreement with the FBI and the Department of Justice to review more than 2,000 criminal cases in which the FBI conducted microscopic hair analysis of crime scene evidence.  The agencies agreed to undertake the review after three men who had served lengthy prison sentences were exonerated by DNA testing in cases in which three different FBI hair examiners provided testimony which exceeded the limits of science and contributed to their wrongful convictions.”  In announcing the review, it was noted that microscopic hair analysis was deemed “highly unreliable” in the CSTL forensic science report.

The Global Reach of CSTL Synthetic Biology Activities

On July 15-16, 2013, CSTL's Forum on Synthetic Biology held a workshop at Imperial College London entitled Ownership and Sharing: Setting the Patent Framework for Innovation in Synthetic Biology.  This workshop was inspired by the 2011-12 collaboration on synthetic biology by the national sciences and engineering academies of the United States, U.K., and China (a collaboration which resulted in the report Positioning Synthetic Biology to Meet the Challenges of the 21st Century.  The July 2013 workshop was referenced by BBC News in an article about the promises and perils of synthetic biology.

CSTL University IP Report Reaches Asian Audience

The 2010 Board on Science, Technology, and Economic Policy (STEP)/CSTL report, Managing University Intellectual Property in the Public Interest, was recently translated into Japanese by the Tuttle-Mori Agency, Inc., Tokyo.  The Tuttle-Mori Agency is the oldest established (and largest) literary agency in Japan.

Improving Science in the Administrative Process

On September, 10 2012, at the request of the Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS), CSTL hosted a one-day public workshop to consider a draft report entitled Science in the Adminstrative Process: A Study of Decisionmaking Approaches, and discuss the report's recommendations.  On February 18, 2013, ACUS released the final report - Science in Regulation: A Study of Agency Decisionmaking Approaches.  The final report reflects revisions made in response to concerns raised during the CSTL workshop.


CSTL Member Drew Endy Named White House Open Science Champion
On June 20, 2013, CSTL Member Drew Endy, Assistant Professor, Bioengineering, Stanford University, and 12 other “Champions of Change” were honored at the White House for their extraordinary leadership in "open science."  Endy was recognized for his “early leadership and support for many open biotechnology programs including, a competition enabling over 10,000 students to explore biotechnology,, a resource for sharing lab methods and results used by thousands of researchers, and, a public-domain factory for engineering high-quality standard biological parts” and for his role in the development of the BioBrick Public Agreement - a legal contract for making genetic materials widely available.

CSTL Member Marcus Feldman Elected to National Academy of Sciences
On April 30, 2013, CSTL Member Marcus Feldman, Burnet C. and Mildred Wohlford Professor of Biological Sciences, Stanford University, was named as a member of the National Academy of Sciences.  He was elected with of 83 new members and 21 foreign associates.  Feldman's work uses applied mathematics and computer modeling to simulate and analyze the process of evolution.  He helped develop the quantitative theory of cultural evolution, which he applies to issues in human behavior, and also the theory of niche construction, which has wide applications in ecology and evolutionary analysis.



Committee on Scientific Approaches to Understanding and Maximizing the Validity and Reliability of Eyewitness Identification in Law Enforcement and the Courts: Phase I: Social Sciences

CSTL has established, in collaboration with the National Academy of Sciences' Committee on Law and Justice (CLAJ) a committee to critically assess the existing body of scientific research as it relates to eyewitness identification.


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

CSTL will appoint an ad hoc committee will develop an educational mission statement, modules, and contextual materials that elucidate the role of science in decision-making for professional school students with a particular emphasis on scientific and statistical methods of inference.  The committee will commission a survey of 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 suitable new material, evaluate submitted proposals, award contracts for winning proposals, and review and approve module submissions.  Materials will be designed for use by faculty seeking to improve scientific understanding among legal, policy, and business students, either as parts of courses or as a course itself which individual faculty members will design.  They 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.  During its term, the committee will evaluate options for external web platforms and related electronic resources for providing permanent accommodation for the modules.  As envisioned, the selected platform should serve as a locus wherein additional educational materials may be discussed, developed, and housed. 

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.


Public Policy Issues in Additive Manufacturing (3-D Printing)

CSTL and the National Academy of Sciences' Board on Science, Technology, and Economic Policy (STEP) propose to Undertake a study of additive manufacturing that would encompass: Intellectual property protection and enforcement; the cybersecurity of sensitive design files; the development of international standards to enable interoperability; the production, distribution, and certification of controlled or regulated products, e.g. drugs and medical devices, military equipment, civilian firearms, food, and biological materials; export controls and nuclear non-proliferation regimes; R&D and workforce development support; and ethical and societal issues associated with new innovations.

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.