SecureBio, a nonprofit working alongside the MIT Sculpting Evolution Group on highly targeted projects seeking to prevent or respond to the next pandemic.

What does SecureBio do?

SecureBio is led by Prof. Kevin Esvelt of the MIT Sculpting Evolution Group. Esvelt’s work has been published in Nature and Science, and covered in The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, PBS and NPR.

SecureBio’s projects cover the full spectrum of pandemic preparedness work:

  • Preventing a terrible pandemic from occurring in the first place;
  • Detecting the next pandemic as early as possible; and
  • Protecting people if the worst happens.

In the future, SecureBio also hopes to make policy recommendations in order to help governments and nonprofit groups prepare for the next pandemic.

As an example of its work, SecureBio has been conducting projects to develop and deploy better personal protective equipment (PPE) before the next pandemic, including:

  • Evaluating the feasibility of new forms of PPE: should governments invest in portable air filtration, light-based sanitisation, or dry heat devices?
  • Mapping out how testing and certification of PPE works in various countries, to support the rollout of these technologies.
  • Laying the groundwork for estimates of how much PPE would need to be stockpiled in order to keep society from collapsing in a particularly severe pandemic before new large-scale production could be achieved.

The Atlantic covered SecureBio’s motivations for exploring options for much better PPE.

Other examples of SecureBio’s work include:

  • Nucleic Acid Observatory — a project aiming to pioneer widespread, untargeted metagenomic sequencing of our environment to provide reliable early warning of all biological threats — including those we have never seen before.
  • Secure DNA — a project which has developed a highly specific and fully automated screening mechanism to scan DNA orders for potential threats.

To learn more about SecureBio, we recommend reading their website.