Safety is an inherent concern in any setting or activity, being construction, manufacturing, industry, agriculture, environment or health. In the life sciences-based applications, safety is often seen as pertaining a specific process (eg. genetic manipulation in a laboratory) or final product (e.g. food nutrient or chemical). Yet, safety goes far beyond the technical execution of individual processes and products, or merely meeting regulatory requirements. Safe-by-design is an integrated, iterative and interdisciplinary concept that addresses safety issues already during the R&D and design phases, pertains the whole development process and value chain while considering its broader societal embedding. Hence, the consistent deployment of a broad Safe-by-Design strategy holds the potential to foster innovation in both traditional sectors and in emerging sciences, like Biotechnology.
Recent rapid developments in Biotechnology are possible with techniques that, for example, allow doing genetic engineering faster and with more precision in plants, animals or microbes. All these new developments yield new opportunities such as eradicating or treating diseases, breeding healthier livestock or crops, cleaning soils or producing biodegradable materials and valuable compounds. However, questions on new risks of biotechnology arise from these new opportunities. What are the possibilities and challenges offered by the Safe-by-Design approach for managing these issues? How can we apply this concept in our biotechnological projects?
“Safe-by-Design is a specific approach to technological design: it is an iterative, interactive, interdisciplinary process that includes safety – in addition to functionality – as one of the key requirements during the design and development process.” (Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management)
Basic knowledge of biological processes and their role in applications to health, food & feed, industry, agriculture or environment is welcome but not essential. The course is accessible to practitioners of both technical and social sciences, as well as policy and decision makers.
This course aims to share the current status of Safe-by-Design concepts in the Biosciences and more specifically in the field of Biotechnology, and to train (future) scientists to assess all aspects of projects, from the project idea through the research phase to the final product, with relation to potential safety aspects. This leads to processes and products that are inherently safe and that meet criteria for societal acceptance and thereby foster innovation. This approach is especially interesting for those fields in which the assessment and management of risks are more complicated, given their high degree of uncertainty or the importance of a safe product. In our biotechnological context, this includes areas like bioengineering, synthetic biology, bionanotechnology or food sciences.
This course aims as well at involving/educating all stakeholder in the innovation chain, raising awareness and promoting responsibility in all phases of research and development. By effective cooperation between the social and technical disciplines, it will become feasible to discuss both risk and broader societal aspects throughout the innovation chain.
Course topics & format
- What is safe-by-design (SbD)? Concepts, Scope and Methodology
- Risk assessment & value sensitive design
- How does SbD foster innovation in biotechnology?
- How do you apply SbD principles to your own research project?
The course will be in a workshop format, with a combination of lectures and hands-on (group) work deploying SbD to research projects from participants.
- Prof. Vitor Martins dos Santos, Systems and Synthetic Biology, WUR
Contributions, Lecturers, and tutorial support from:
- Prof. Dirk Bosch, Applied Metabolic Systems, Bioscience, WUR
- Prof. Esther Kok, former head of dept Novel Foods, WFSR
- Dr Zoë Robaey, Ethics of Technology, WUR
- Dr Dick Jung / Tiny van de Werff, Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management
- Dr Lotte van Asveld, Biotechnology and Society, TU Delft
- invited speaker from industry (TBA)
- invited speaker from RIVM (TBA)
Date & duration
The course was planned from 18 November till Friday 20 November 2020, but is postponed until March 2021. The exact dates will be announced shortly.
The study load of this course is 0.9 ECTS credits.
The course language will be English.
Information concerning the course contents can be obtained from Prof. Martins dos Santos
For organisational matters please contact: Cornelia van Bree-Evers
Location & accommodation
Lectures will be given at Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen Campus. The course will be online in case the COVID-19 measures apply!
The town of Wageningen is 5 km from Ede-Wageningen railway station, with direct bus links to the Campus.
Accommodation in Wageningen is not included in the course. Click here for accommodation options within (or surrounding) Wageningen.
Registration & course fee
The number of participants to the course is limited to a maximum of 20.
Applicants will be informed of acceptance of their registration. They will receive instructions for payment and further course details.
Course fee includes course materials, coffee/tea during breaks and lunches but does not cover accommodation. The course fee depends on the participant's affiliation:
|VLAG/EPS/WASS/WIAS/WIMEK-SENSE/PE&RC PhD candidates
|| € 225
|other PhD candidates / Postdocs and staff from VLAG
|| € 450
|Postdocs / University staff / non-profit
|| € 625
|Private sector / for-profit
|| € 625
- No charge until 19 October 2020
- 25% of the course fee paid or due till 2 November 2020
- No refund after 2 November 2020
Substitutions for participants may be made at any time until the start of the course.