Linda Kahl: Case study

Senior Counsel and Director of Ownership and Innovation at BioBricks Foundation

CSaP Policy Fellow 2015 - 2017
Senior Counsel and Director of Ownership and Innovation, The BioBricks Foundation

1 November 2016

"This is the magic of the CSaP Policy Fellowship: It forges connections. I’ve made many important connections with people, places and ideas that have helped me become more effective in working at the intersection of science, law and policy."

In my role as Senior Counsel and Director of Ownership and Innovation for the BioBricks Foundation, I work with members of the scientific research community, industry leaders, policy makers, legal professionals, and other stakeholders to promote the engineering of biology in the public interest. As a CSaP Policy Fellow, I was introduced to impressive and accomplished individuals from a wide range of backgrounds who offered diverse perspectives, new ways of thinking, and frameworks from different fields that could support open innovation and social impact in the field of synthetic biology.

Connecting with a community of thought leaders

Through the CSaP Policy Fellowship, I was connected to a community of thought leaders working on an array of emerging technologies and the legal, ethical, and public policy challenges they present. As an example, I met with Dr. Kathy Liddell, whose work focuses on regulation of genetic technologies, and we explored the many connections between the fields of genomics and synthetic biology. Our discussion led to an invitation for me to contribute to a workshop on “Responsible and Open Innovation with Large BioResources: Goals, Challenges and Proposals” which aimed to inform future research and policy directions.

One of the most important connections enabled by the CSaP Policy Fellowship was with the team leading the OpenPlant Initiative at the University of Cambridge and Norwich Research Park, including Dr. Jim Haseloff, Dr. Jennifer Molloy, Dr. Nicola Patron, and Dr. Colette Matthewman. Together, we are developing the Open Material Transfer Agreement (OpenMTA) that will enable individuals and institutions to share biomaterial resources on an open basis.

Making a positive difference in the world

From assembling an Intellectual Property Working Group, to soliciting input on design goals for the OpenMTA, to finalizing the legal text and developing strategies for outreach and onboarding, our collaboration has proven uniquely valuable not only in testing the viability of the OpenMTA but also providing real life examples of its successful use in biomaterials transfer across institutional and international boundaries.

I am grateful for the opportunity to be a CSaP Policy Fellow and highly recommend this program for those wishing to become connected to dedicated and talented individuals working to make a positive difference in the world.

Read Linda's biography here.