June 21, 2013
Open Science Initiative Developed by YLS Associate Professor David Grewal '02 and Stanford Bioengineer Receives White House Honor
The BioBricks Foundation, a Boston-based non-profit dedicated to advancing biotechnology to benefit all people and the planet, was the recipient of the White House’s “Champions of Change” honor this week for its contribution to open science.
The honor highlighted the work of Yale Law School’s David Grewal '02, a director on the board of the BioBricks Foundation, and Stanford University’s Drew Endy, a bioengineer and President of the BioBricks Foundation. Grewal is an Associate Professor of Law at Yale Law School whose teaching and research interests focus on intellectual property law and biotechnology, international trade law, and law and economics.
Together, Grewal, Endy, and Attorney Mark Fischer, of Duane Morris LLP, drafted the BioBrick Public Agreement (BPA), a legal contract that makes genetic materials free to share and use. They also worked on underwriting an open technical standards-setting process for the new field of synthetic biology. In announcing the honors, the White House credited these measures with encouraging everyone to work together in creating a public domain “operating system” for engineering biology.
“It's a tremendous honor for the BioBricks Foundation to have our work be recognized by the White House Champions of Change program,” said Grewal. “In the emerging field of synthetic biology, we've been the main advocates of an open approach to scientific development – and it's great to be honored for this work along with pioneering organizations in other fields.”
Grewal, who became involved with the BioBricks Foundation five years ago, travelled to the White House to attend the ceremony in which Endy accepted the honor on behalf of the foundation. The two first met in Boston and bonded over their shared interest in open technological development. As they worked more closely together, Grewal began to help Endy consider the legal aspects of sharing innovations in synthetic biology. He was the first non-scientist to join the board of the BioBricks Foundation.
“I've been immensely privileged to be able to work between Drew Endy, a path-breaking scientist, and Mark Fischer, a remarkable and creative attorney, who has worked on open-source projects throughout his career, including the first open-source software license,” said Grewal. “The result of our drafting was the BioBrick Public Agreement (BPA), which is a legal tool designed for sharing synthetic biological parts.”
At the event, the BioBricks Foundation highlighted the fact that the BioBrick Public Agreement is already being used by companies such as DNA2.0, which has recently contributed “free fluorescent proteins” to the public domain. It is the hope of the Foundation that more companies, academic labs, and other research organizations will decide to share standardized biological parts using the BPA.
The White House Champions of Change program was created as part of President Obama’s “Winning the Future” initiative. Through this program, the White House highlights individuals, businesses, and organizations whose extraordinary stories and accomplishments positively impact our communities.
To learn more about BioBricks Foundation, visit its website at http://biobricks.org.