01/23/2015

Scientists Engineer Bacteria With Genetic ‘Kill Switch’

12:05 minutes

Genetic engineers have designed strains of E. coli that can survive only in the presence of a compound that doesn’t exist in nature—meaning the bacteria’s odds of escaping the lab alive are limited. Dan Mandell, a research fellow in genetics at Harvard Medical School who co-authored a paper about the findings in Nature this week, explains. David Guston, co-director of the Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes at Arizona State University, discusses the ethical and safety implications of the work.

Segment Guests

David Guston

David Guston is a professor of politics and global studies and co-director of the Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona.

Dan Mandell

Dan Mandell is a research fellow in genetics at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts.

Meet the Producer

About Christopher Intagliata

Christopher Intagliata is Science Friday’s senior producer. He once served as a prop in an optical illusion and speaks passable Ira Flatowese.