Ellington Lab Represented at EBRC Symposium in Washington D.C.

On August 1 & 2, the Engineering Biology Research Consortium (EBRC) held a symposium in Washington D.C. titled ‘The Convergence of Engineering Biology & Data Science: Understanding Risk and Mitigation Options’. The discussion was focussed on how computer and data science is impacting security in the field of biological engineering, and strategies to mitigate these issues. Talks were wide-ranging, from field overviews (Richard Murray, Caltech) to technical contributions (Lance Stewart, Center for Protein Design UW). Graduate student Austin Cole represented the Ellington Lab and a new start-up company, AI Protein Solutions, and presented a talk titled “Structure Based Machine Learning for Protein Engineering.” The talk was an outgrowth of novel neural network analyses of protein structure and stability, but was canted towards the possibilities inherent in using AI to predict and counter emergent biothreats. Speakers were drawn from top biological engineering laboratories in both academia and industry. The audience was composed entirely of Government stakeholders from a variety of agencies. Attendees discussed strategies that might be used to preemptively identify biological threats as well as how better risk assessments might be carried out.