Dr. Allison Berke joins CNS as Chemical and Biological Weapons Nonproliferation Program Director

September 19, 2022

Dr. Allison Berke has joined the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies as the director of the Chemical and Biological Weapons Nonproliferation Program, where she will lead research, education, and outreach efforts. Dr. Berke’s research interests include computationally-focused methods for detecting and monitoring disease outbreaks and novel pathogens; the cybersecurity of biological and medical information; and the implications of synthetic biology for deterrence and nonproliferation.

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Dr. Berke has previously worked at Stanford University since 2015, directing cybersecurity and technology policy research centers. Her biosecurity research is funded by the Centre for Effective Altruism, and touches on secure sharing and screening of synthesized DNA, directed mutagenesis and in silico docking of potential pathogens, and the use of biological materials as receptors for the environmental detection of toxins. She has taught courses at Stanford University and at Duke University in computer science, ethics, and policy; comparative national security policy; protein engineering; science and tech policy; and cybersecurity policy. Her work in biosecurity and bioinformatics began at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and at UC Berkeley, investigating the mutational signatures of engineered pathogens and methods for engineering proteins with directed binding specificity.

Before joining CNS full-time, Dr. Berke has been collaborating with several CNS experts, including Dr. George Moore and Dr. Ian Stewart, on projects involving chemical and biological weapons investigations, genomic data security, and the security implications of bio automation.

CNS Founding Director William Potter expressed great enthusiasm about the appointment, which he characterized as “adding significantly to the scientific expertise of CNS related to both bioengineering and cybersecurity.”

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