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May 2010
Volume 1, Issue 1




Activities In Progress
Topics Under Discussion



We are pleased to present the inaugural 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 only national committee that brings leading 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.  CSTL 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 two perspectives: (1) how law influences and constrains the practice of scientific and engineering research (law in the laboratory) and (2) how scientists and engineers participate in, and how their work is used by, the legal community (science in the courts).


For more information on CSTL, visit our website at



Forensic Science Cover 

Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward

Project Information



Evaluation of the Reference Manual on Scientific Evidence

Project Information


Science and Security in a Post 9/11 World

Project Information      

NEWS (back to top)

CSTL Celebrates Its Inaugural Decade

Donald Kennedy and Richard A. MerrillOn Monday, October 19, 2009, CSTL celebrated its first decade with a celebratory dinner for departing co-chairs Donald Kennedy (President Emeritus and Bing Professor of Environmental Science Emeritus, Stanford University and Editor-in-Chief Emeritus, Science ) and Richard A. Merrill (Daniel Caplin Professor of Law Emeritus, University of Virginia Law School).  Past and present CSTL members, colleagues, family, and friends joined CSTL staff at the National Academies' Keck Center to reminisce about and honor Kennedy and Merrill's decade of leadership.  As CSTL founding co-chairs, Kennedy and Merrill took what began as an ambition to establish a dialogue between scientists, engineers and members of the legal community and transformed it into a vibrant committee that has issued reports of national importance and convened workshops and other discussions that have influenced government policy.  To learn more about CSTL's accomplishments during its first ten years, visit

DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano Speaks at Autumn CSTL Meeting

DHS Secretary Janet NapolitanoAt the October 2009 meeting of the Committee on Science, Technology, and Law, Janet Napolitano, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, spoke to the committee about the department's use of scientific and technical innovations for counter-terrorism, border control, disaster preparation and response, and the enforcement of immigration laws.   Following her presentation, Secretary Napolitano responded to questions posed by committee members.  Topics of discussion included risk assessment/mitigation for emerging technologies, sensor networks, the exchange of research data, and balancing security and privacy concerns.

CSTL Member D. Brock Hornby Receives Edward J. Devitt Distinguished Service to Justice Award

Judge D. Brock HornbyJudge D. Brock Hornby of the U.S. District Court, District of Maine was the recipient of the 27th Annual Edward J. Devitt Distinguished Service to Justice Award.  A three-member panel chaired by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy presented the award.  The Devitt Award honors "Article III judges whose careers have been exemplary, measured by their significant contributions to the administration of justice, the advancement of the rule of law, and the improvement of society as a whole."

CSTL Member Elizabeth Blackburn Receives Nobel Prize

Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn with fellow CSTL member Dr. Barbara Bierer

On December 10, 2009, Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn, Morris Herztstein Professor of Biology and Physiology at the University of California, San Francisco, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for "for the discovery of how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase."  The award ceremony in Stockholm was the latest high point in a career begun in the 1970's studying telomeres, the DNA units that seal off the ends of chromosomes.


May 2010 CSTL Meeting

The next meeting of the Committee on Science, Technology, and Law will be held on May 17-18, 2010 in Washington, DC.   The meeting will feature discussions of the following topics: 1) Sensor Networks 2) The Use of Epidemiology in Health Policy, Regulation, and Law 3) Transparency and Participatory Reform of Administrative Procedures 4) Health Information Technology 5) the Internationalization of U.S. Research Universities, and 6) Disclosure as an Instrument of Public Policy.  For more information about the May and future meetings, please contact Steven Kendall at 202-334-1713 or   



Management of University Intellectual Property: Lessons from a Generation of Experience, Research, and Dialogue. CSTL has partnered with the National Academy of Sciences' Board on Science, Technology, and Economic Policy (STEP) on a study that will distill lessons from research and experience since the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980 for the acquisition, licensing, defense, and sale of intellectual property (IP) arising from publicly and privately sponsored research at U.S. academic institutions. This study committee is co-chaired by Mark Wrighton (Chancellor, University of Washington at St. Louis) and Mark Fishman (President, Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research). The project sponsors include Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Robertson Foundation, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, Burroughs Wellcome Fund, FasterCures Center, Milken Institute, HighQ Foundation, Myelin Repair Foundation, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and an anonymous donor. The committee's report is expected to be released in the summer of 2010.  For more information, visit


The Third Edition of the Reference Manual on Scientific Evidence. At the request of the Federal Judicial Center, CSTL is developing the third edition of the Reference Manual on Scientific Evidence. The Reference Manual has become a primary reference source for federal judges for scientific questions arising in litigation, and is used not only by federal judges, but by state judges, attorneys, legal scholars, and law students. The manual provides a balanced presentation of the fundamental principles of scientific methodology in areas likely to arise in expert testimony. The Reference Manual committee is co-chaired by the Honorable Gladys Kessler (Judge, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia) and Jerome Kassirer (Distinguished Professor, Tufts University School of Medicine and Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of the New England Journal of Medicine ). The project is funded by the Starr Foundation and Carnegie Corporation of New York.  For more information, visit


Review of the Scientific Approaches used during the FBI's Investigation of the 2001 Bacillus anthracis Mailings. In response to a request from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), CSTL, in collaboration with the National Academy of Sciences' Board on Life Sciences (BLS), is conducting an independent review of the scientific approaches used during the investigation of the 2001 Bacillus anthracis mailings. The study committee-under the leadership of Alice Gast  (President, Lehigh University) and David Relman (Professor of Medicine and Microbiology and Immunology, Stanford University School of Medicine)-is evaluating the scientific foundation for the specific techniques used by the FBI to determine whether these techniques met appropriate standards for scientific reliability and for use in forensic validation. The committee has been given access to the scientific studies and analyses performed in connection with the 2001 Bacillus anthracis mailings. A report of the committee's findings will be issued in late 2010.  For more information, visit



Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Testing. Following a major 2009 workshop organized by CSTL in collaboration with the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences' Board on Life Sciences (BLS), CSTL is exploring further activities in the area of direct-to-consumer genetic testing.  For more information on the 2009 workshop, visit


Synthetic Biology. CSTL, in collaboration with the National Academy of Sciences' Board on Science, Technology, and Economic Policy (STEP), Board on Life Sciences (BLS), National Academy of Engineering, the British Royal Society, and the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development organized an international symposium in the summer of 2009 to explore the opportunities and challenges posed by the emerging field of synthetic biology. The symposium featured presentations and discussions on the myriad legal, policy, regulatory, risk, and ethical questions raised by the advancements in synthetic biology. In the wake of the symposium, CSTL is discussing further activities in this dynamic area.  For more information on the 2009 symposium, visit



Comments? Opinions? Suggestions of topics for discussion?  Submit them here.  Or contact us at:


Committee on Science, Technology, and Law
The National Academies
500 Fifth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001
Tel: 202 334-1713
Fax: 202 334-2530




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