Examining the Causes and Consequences of Incarceration in the United States

The growth of incarceration in the United States during the last four decades has prompted numerous critiques and a growing body of scientific knowledge about what prompted the rise and what its consequences have been for the people imprisoned, their families and communities, and for U.S. society. Our reports examine the examine the body of evidence regarding incarceration rates and its effects, and recommend changes in sentencing policy, prison policy, and social policy.

The Growth of Incarceration in the United States: Exploring Causes and Consequences

After decades of stability from the 1920s to the early 1970s, the rate of imprisonment in the United States more than quadrupled during the last four decades. The U.S. penal population of 2.2 million adults is by far the largest in the world. …

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Reforming Juvenile Justice: A Developmental Approach

Adolescence is a distinct, yet transient, period of development between childhood and adulthood characterized by increased experimentation and risk-taking, a tendency to discount long-term consequences, and heightened sensitivity to peers and …

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Implementing Juvenile Justice Reform: The Federal Role

In the past decade, a number of state, local, and tribal jurisdictions have begun to take significant steps to overhaul their juvenile justice systems – for example, reducing the use of juvenile detention and out-of-home placement, bringing …

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Deterrence and the Death Penalty

Many studies during the past few decades have sought to determine whether the death penalty has any deterrent effect on homicide rates. Researchers have reached widely varying, even contradictory, conclusions. Some studies have concluded that the …

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Exploring Vaccination Safety

As vaccine research and development continues to grow, so does the debate regarding vaccination safety and best practices. Our reports review the clinical and biological evidence regarding immunization safety.

The Childhood Immunization Schedule and Safety: Stakeholder Concerns, Scientific Evidence, and Future Studies

Vaccines are among the most safe and effective public health interventions to prevent serious disease and death. Because of the success of vaccines, most Americans today have no firsthand experience with such devastating illnesses as polio or …

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Adverse Effects of Vaccines: Evidence and Causality

In 1900, for every 1,000 babies born in the United States, 100 would die before their first birthday, often due to infectious diseases. Today, vaccines exist for many viral and bacterial diseases. The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act, passed …

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Building a National Capability to Monitor and Assess Medical Countermeasure Use During a Public Health Emergency: Going Beyond the Last Mile: Proceedings of a Workshop

During public health emergencies (PHEs) involving chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear threats or emerging infectious diseases, medical countermeasures (MCMs) (e.g., drugs, vaccines, devices) may need to be dispensed or administered to …

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Integrating Clinical Research into Epidemic Response: The Ebola Experience

The 2014–2015 Ebola epidemic in western Africa was the longest and most deadly Ebola epidemic in history, resulting in 28,616 cases and 11,310 deaths in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. The Ebola virus has been known since 1976, when two …

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Eliminating the Public Health Problem of Hepatitis B and C in the United States: Phase One Report

Hepatitis B and C cause most cases of hepatitis in the United States and the world. The two diseases account for about a million deaths a year and 78 percent of world’s hepatocellular carcinoma and more than half of all fatal cirrhosis. In 2013 …

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Priorities for the National Vaccine Plan

Vaccination is a fundamental component of preventive medicine and public health. The use of vaccines to prevent infectious diseases has resulted in dramatic decreases in disease, disability, and death in the United States and around the world. …

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Ranking Vaccines: A Prioritization Framework: Phase I: Demonstration of Concept and a Software Blueprint

As a number of diseases emerge or reemerge thus stimulating new vaccine development opportunities to help prevent those diseases, it can be especially difficult for decision makers to know where to invest their limited resources. Therefore, it is …

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Ranking Vaccines: A Prioritization Software Tool: Phase II: Prototype of a Decision-Support System

SMART Vaccines–Strategic Multi-Attribute Ranking Tool for Vaccines–is a prioritization software tool developed by the Institute of Medicine that utilizes decision science and modeling to help inform choices among candidates for new vaccine …

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Ranking Vaccines: Applications of a Prioritization Software Tool: Phase III: Use Case Studies and Data Framework

SMART Vaccines – Strategic Multi-Attribute Ranking Tool for Vaccines – is a prioritization software tool developed by the Institute of Medicine that utilizes decision science and modeling to help inform choices among candidates for new vaccine …

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Exploring the Advancing Technology of Warfare

Nations like the United States use their technical expertise and industrial capability to invest in advanced military weapons and support systems. Our reports support continued efforts to prepare for the changing future of warfare.

Biodefense in the Age of Synthetic Biology

Scientific advances over the past several decades have accelerated the ability to engineer existing organisms and to potentially create novel ones not found in nature. Synthetic biology, which collectively refers to concepts, approaches, and …

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Making the Soldier Decisive on Future Battlefields

The U.S. military does not believe its soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines should be engaged in combat with adversaries on a “level playing field.” Our combat individuals enter engagements to win. To that end, the United States has used its …

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2017-2018 Assessment of the Army Research Laboratory: Interim Report

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Army Research Laboratory Technical Assessment Board (ARLTAB) provides biennial assessments of the scientific and technical quality of the research, development, and analysis programs …

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Owning the Technical Baseline for Acquisition Programs in the U.S. Air Force

While there are examples of successful weapon systems acquisition programs within the U.S. Air Force (USAF), many of the programs are still incurring cost growth, schedule delays, and performance problems. The USAF now faces serious challenges in …

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National Security Space Defense and Protection: Public Report

It is not yet 60 years since the first artificial satellite was placed into Earth orbit. In just over a half century, mankind has gone from no presence in outer space to a condition of high dependence on orbiting satellites. These sensors, …

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Reliability Growth: Enhancing Defense System Reliability

A high percentage of defense systems fail to meet their reliability requirements. This is a serious problem for the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), as well as the nation. Those systems are not only less likely to successfully carry out their …

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Mainstreaming Unmanned Undersea Vehicles into Future U.S. Naval Operations: Abbreviated Version of a Restricted Report

At the request of the former Chief of Naval Operations, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine appointed an expert committee to assess the potential of unmanned undersea vehicles (UUVs) in enhancing future U.S. naval …

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Force Multiplying Technologies for Logistics Support to Military Operations

The mission of the United States Army is to fight and win our nation’s wars by providing prompt, sustained land dominance across the full range of military operations and spectrum of conflict in support of combatant commanders. Accomplishing this …

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A Threat to America’s Global Vigilance, Reach, and Power–High-Speed, Maneuvering Weapons: Unclassified Summary

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine was asked by the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Science, Technology and Engineering to assess the threat of high-speed weapons and recommendations to counter the threat. This …

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Exploring Mars: Opportunities and Best Practices

Recent probes to Mars have yielded data that is shaping our understanding of the possibility of existing and past life on the planet. Coupled with advances in biology and life-detection techniques, these developments place increasing importance on the need to protect Mars during exploration. These reports examine existing planetary safety measures, and recommend potential changes and further research. 

Preventing the Forward Contamination of Mars

Recent spacecraft and robotic probes to Mars have yielded data that are changing our understanding significantly about the possibility of existing or past life on that planet. Coupled with advances in biology and life-detection techniques, these developments place increasing importance on the need …

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An Astrobiology Strategy for the Exploration of Mars

Three recent developments have greatly increased interest in the search for life on Mars. The first is new information about the Martian environment including evidence of a watery past and the possibility of atmospheric methane. The second is the possibility of microbial viability on Mars. …

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Review of the MEPAG Report on Mars Special Regions

Planetary protection is a guiding principle in the design of an interplanetary mission, aiming to prevent biological contamination of both the target celestial body and the Earth. The protection of high-priority science goals, the search for life and the understanding of the Martian organic …

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Safe on Mars: Precursor Measurements Necessary to Support Human Operations on the Martian Surface

This study, commissioned by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), examines the role of robotic exploration missions in assessing the risks to the first human missions to Mars. Only those hazards arising from exposure to environmental, chemical, and biological agents on the …

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Assessment of Planetary Protection Requirements for Mars Sample Return Missions

NASA maintains a planetary protection policy to avoid the forward biological contamination of other worlds by terrestrial organisms, and back biological contamination of Earth from the return of extraterrestrial materials by spaceflight missions. Forward-contamination issues related to Mars …

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Review and Assessment of Planetary Protection Policy Development Processes

Protecting Earth’s environment and other solar system bodies from harmful contamination has been an important principle throughout the history of space exploration. For decades, the scientific, political, and economic conditions of space exploration converged in ways that contributed to …

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A Midterm Assessment of Implementation of the Decadal Survey on Life and Physical Sciences Research at NASA

The 2011 National Research Council decadal survey on biological and physical sciences in space, Recapturing a Future for Space Exploration: Life and Physical Sciences Research for a New Era, was written during a critical period in the evolution of science in support of space exploration. …

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Forging the Future of Space Science: The Next 50 Years

From September 2007 to June 2008 the Space Studies Board conducted an international public seminar series, with each monthly talk highlighting a different topic in space and Earth science. The principal lectures from the series are compiled in Forging the Future of Space Science. The …

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Pathways to Exploration: Rationales and Approaches for a U.S. Program of Human Space Exploration

The United States has publicly funded its human spaceflight program on a continuous basis for more than a half-century, through three wars and a half-dozen recessions, from the early Mercury and Gemini suborbital and Earth orbital missions, to the lunar landings, and thence to the first reusable …

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Investing in New Technologies at the Forefront of Research

New technologies are transforming the national and global landscape while continuing to support the growth of the research industry. These reports examine a sample of the technologies at the forefront of our research and provide recommendations for further development.

An Assessment of U.S.-Based Electron-Ion Collider Science

Understanding of protons and neutrons, or “nucleons”—the building blocks of atomic nuclei—has advanced dramatically, both theoretically and experimentally, in the past half century. A central goal of modern nuclear physics is to …

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Report Series: Committee on Solar and Space Physics: Heliophysics Science Centers

The newly constituted Committee on Solar and Space Physics (CSSP) has been tasked with monitoring the progress of recommendations from the 2013 decadal survey Solar and Space Physics: A Science for a Technological Society. The committee …

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Opportunities in Intense Ultrafast Lasers: Reaching for the Brightest Light

The laser has revolutionized many areas of science and society, providing bright and versatile light sources that transform the ways we investigate science and enables trillions of dollars of commerce. Now a second laser revolution is underway …

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High Magnetic Field Science and Its Application in the United States: Current Status and Future Directions

The Committee to Assess the Current Status and Future Direction of High Magnetic Field Science in the United States was convened by the National Research Council in response to a request by the National Science Foundation. This report answers …

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Optics and Photonics: Essential Technologies for Our Nation

Optics and photonics technologies are ubiquitous: they are responsible for the displays on smart phones and computing devices, optical fiber that carries the information in the internet, advanced precision manufacturing, enhanced defense …

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Nuclear Physics: Exploring the Heart of Matter

The principal goals of the study were to articulate the scientific rationale and objectives of the field and then to take a long-term strategic view of U.S. nuclear science in the global context for setting future directions for the field. …

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An Assessment of the Prospects for Inertial Fusion Energy

The potential for using fusion energy to produce commercial electric power was first explored in the 1950s. Harnessing fusion energy offers the prospect of a nearly carbon-free energy source with a virtually unlimited supply of fuel. Unlike …

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Examining Genetic Engineering

Genome editing is now more efficient, precise, and flexible, contributing to the improvement of human health around the globe. Recent revolutionary advances like CRISPR have allowed for gene editing at both the somatic and germline level. However, the speed at which these technologies are being developed and used has many policymakers and stakeholders concerned about whether appropriate systems are in place to govern them. Our reports examine potential benefits and risks of these technologies, and present general principles for the governance of genetic engineering.

Human Genome Editing: Science, Ethics, and Governance

Genome editing is a powerful new tool for making precise alterations to an organism’s genetic material. Recent scientific advances have made genome editing more efficient, precise, and flexible than ever before. These advances have spurred an …

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Genetically Engineered Crops: Experiences and Prospects

Genetically engineered (GE) crops were first introduced commercially in the 1990s. After two decades of production, some groups and individuals remain critical of the technology based on their concerns about possible adverse effects on human …

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Gene Drives on the Horizon: Advancing Science, Navigating Uncertainty, and Aligning Research with Public Values

Research on gene drive systems is rapidly advancing. Many proposed applications of gene drive research aim to solve environmental and public health challenges, including the reduction of poverty and the burden of vector-borne diseases, such as …

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Mitochondrial Replacement Techniques: Ethical, Social, and Policy Considerations

Mitochondrial replacement techniques (MRTs) are designed to prevent the transmission of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) diseases from mother to child. While MRTs, if effective, could satisfy a desire of women seeking to have a genetically related child …

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The Promise of Genome Editing Tools to Advance Environmental Health Research: Proceedings of a Workshop—in Brief

Advances in genome editing – the process for making precise additions, deletions, and alterations of DNA and RNA – have opened the door for studying biological mechanisms of health and disease. On January 10-11, 2018, the National Academies of …

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Policy Issues in the Clinical Development and Use of Immunotherapy for Cancer Treatment: Proceedings of a Workshop

Immunotherapy is a form of cancer therapy that harnesses the body’s immune system to destroy cancer cells. In recent years, immunotherapies have been developed for several cancers, including advanced melanoma, lung cancer, and kidney cancer. In …

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Exploring the Treatment of Research Participants

Advances in scientific research help improve, lengthen and save the lives of many around the world. However, research-driven studies can present risks to subjects, the research enterprise, and our communities. In order to maintain the quality of the research laboratory, protections are needed to preserve participants’ dignity and prevent potential harms. Our reports review the existing ethical and legal guidelines, and consider the opportunities and challenges that face participant-based research.

Returning Individual Research Results to Participants: Guidance for a New Research Paradigm

When is it appropriate to return individual research results to participants? The immense interest in this question has been fostered by the growing movement toward greater transparency and participant engagement in the research enterprise. Yet, the risks of returning individual research …

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Responsible Research: A Systems Approach to Protecting Research Participants

When 18-year-old Jesse Gelsinger died in a gene transfer study at the University of Pennsylvania, the national spotlight focused on the procedures used to ensure research participants’ safety and their capacity to safeguard the well-being of those who volunteer for research …

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Ethical Conduct of Clinical Research Involving Children

In recent decades, advances in biomedical research have helped save or lengthen the lives of children around the world. With improved therapies, child and adolescent mortality rates have decreased significantly in the last half century. Despite these advances, pediatricians and others argue …

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Beyond the HIPAA Privacy Rule: Enhancing Privacy, Improving Health Through Research

In the realm of health care, privacy protections are needed to preserve patients’ dignity and prevent possible harms. Ten years ago, to address these concerns as well as set guidelines for ethical health research, Congress called for a set of federal standards now known as the HIPAA Privacy …

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Ethical Considerations for Research Involving Prisoners

In the past 30 years, the population of prisoners in the United States has expanded almost 5-fold, correctional facilities are increasingly overcrowded, and more of the country’s disadvantaged populations— minorities, women, people with mental illness, and people with communicable …

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Proposed Revisions to the Common Rule for the Protection of Human Subjects in the Behavioral and Social Sciences

Proposed Revisions to the Common Rule for the Protection of Human Subjects in the Behavioral and Social Sciences examines how to update human subjects protections regulations so that they effectively respond to current research contexts and methods. With a specific focus on social and …

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Proposed Revisions to the Common Rule: Perspectives of Social and Behavioral Scientists: Workshop Summary

On July 26, 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) with the purpose of soliciting comments on how current regulations for protecting research participants could be modernized and revised. The rationale for revising the …

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Social Sciences and Military Intelligence

Science plays an essential role in national security for many countries, including the United States. Military intelligence relies heavily on research and knowledge from the social and behavioral sciences to form analyses and predictions. This contribution helps reduce uncertainty and provide warnings about ranging topics from international diplomatic relations to overseas conflicts. As these complex challenges continue, the involvement of social sciences will grow. Our reports serve as resources to understand the direct role behavioral sciences play in national security in order to help the intelligence community fulfill its critical responsibilities.

Social and Behavioral Sciences for National Security: Proceedings of a Summit

In the coming years, complex domestic and international environments and challenges to national security will continue. Intelligence analysts and the intelligence community will need access to the appropriate tools and developing knowledge about threats to national security in order to provide …

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Changing Sociocultural Dynamics and Implications for National Security: Proceedings of a Workshop

Beginning in October 2017, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine organized a set of workshops designed to gather information for the Decadal Survey of Social and Behavioral Sciences for Applications to National Security. The first workshop focused on changing …

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Leveraging Advances in Social Network Thinking for National Security: Proceedings of a Workshop

Beginning in October 2017, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine organized a set of workshops designed to gather information for the Decadal Survey of Social and Behavioral Sciences for Applications to National Security. The third workshop focused on advances in …

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Emerging Trends and Methods in International Security: Proceedings of a Workshop

Beginning in October 2017, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine organized a set of workshops designed to gather information for the Decadal Survey of Social and Behavioral Sciences for Applications to National Security. The second workshop focused on emerging …

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Workforce Development and Intelligence Analysis for National Security Purposes: Proceedings of a Workshop

Beginning in October 2017, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine organized a set of workshops designed to gather information for the Decadal Survey of Social and Behavioral Sciences for Applications to National Security. The fifth workshop focused on workforce development …

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Understanding Narratives for National Security: Proceedings of a Workshop

Beginning in October 2017, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine organized a set of workshops designed to gather information for the Decadal Survey of Social and Behavioral Sciences for Applications to National Security. The sixth workshop focused on understanding …

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Learning from the Science of Cognition and Perception for Decision Making: Proceedings of a Workshop

Beginning in October 2017, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine organized a set of workshops designed to gather information for the Decadal Survey of Social and Behavioral Sciences for Applications to National Security. The fourth workshop focused on the science of …

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Intelligence Analysis: Behavioral and Social Scientific Foundations

The U.S. intelligence community (IC) is a complex human enterprise whose success depends on how well the people in it perform their work. Although often aided by sophisticated technologies, these people ultimately rely on their own intellect to identify, synthesize, and communicate the …

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Intelligence Analysis for Tomorrow: Advances from the Behavioral and Social Sciences

The intelligence community (IC) plays an essential role in the national security of the United States. Decision makers rely on IC analyses and predictions to reduce uncertainty and to provide warnings about everything from international diplomatic relations to overseas conflicts. In today’s …

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Field Evaluation in the Intelligence and Counterintelligence Context: Workshop Summary

On September 22-23, 2009, the National Research Council held a workshop on the field evaluation of behavioral and cognitive sciences–based methods and tools for use in the areas of intelligence and counterintelligence. Broadly speaking, the purpose of the workshop was to discuss the best ways …

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Human Coastal Interaction

For the past century, humans have contributed to the changes observed in coastal environments. With approximately 40% of the world’s population residing near a coast, our impact on these diverse and sensitive zones creates long-lasting effects. These reports examine the dynamic relationship between humans and coastal ecosystems, and provide recommendations to reduce our footprint moving forward.

Understanding the Long-Term Evolution of the Coupled Natural-Human Coastal System: The Future of the U.S. Gulf Coast

The U.S. Gulf Coast provides a valuable setting to study deeply connected natural and human interactions and feedbacks that have led to a complex, interconnected coastal system. The physical landscape in the region has changed significantly due to broad-scale, long-term processes such as coastal …

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Delta Waters: Research to Support Integrated Water and Environmental Management in the Lower Mississippi River

The Water Institute of the Gulf is a not-for-profit, independent research institute dedicated to advancing the understanding of coastal, deltaic, river and water resource systems, both within the Gulf Coast and around the world. Their mission supports …

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Disaster Resilience: A National Imperative

No person or place is immune from disasters or disaster-related losses. Infectious disease outbreaks, acts of terrorism, social unrest, or financial disasters in addition to natural hazards can all lead to large-scale consequences for the nation and its communities. Communities and the nation …

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Reducing Coastal Risk on the East and Gulf Coasts

Hurricane- and coastal-storm-related losses have increased substantially during the past century, largely due to increases in population and development in the most susceptible coastal areas. Climate change poses additional threats to coastal communities from sea level rise and possible …

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Using Biology as a Potential Defense

Synthetic biology allows and promotes the production or alteration of biological organisms, often for beneficial purposes like reducing diseases and improving agricultural output. While well-intentioned, this innovative field also presents potential risks that could leave many populations vulnerable and threaten livelihoods. Our reports examine the opportunities and concerns surrounding synthetic biology, and offer recommendations to guide this discussion and address these challenges.

Biodefense in the Age of Synthetic Biology

Scientific advances over the past several decades have accelerated the ability to engineer existing organisms and to potentially create novel ones not found in nature. Synthetic biology, which collectively refers to concepts, approaches, and …

[more]

Industrialization of Biology: A Roadmap to Accelerate the Advanced Manufacturing of Chemicals

The tremendous progress in biology over the last half century – from Watson and Crick’s elucidation of the structure of DNA to today’s astonishing, rapid progress in the field of synthetic biology – has positioned us for significant innovation in …

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Life Sciences and Related Fields: Trends Relevant to the Biological Weapons Convention

During the last decade, national and international scientific organizations have become increasingly engaged in considering how to respond to the biosecurity implications of developments in the life sciences and in assessing trends in science and …

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Preparing for Future Products of Biotechnology

Between 1973 and 2016, the ways to manipulate DNA to endow new characteristics in an organism (that is, biotechnology) have advanced, enabling the development of products that were not previously possible. What will the likely future products of …

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Dual Use Research of Concern in the Life Sciences: Current Issues and Controversies

The potential misuse of advances in life sciences research is raising concerns about national security threats. Dual Use Research of Concern in the Life Sciences: Current Issues and Controversies examines the U.S. strategy for reducing …

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Countering Bioterrorism: The Role of Science and Technology

The attacks of September 11 and the release of anthrax spores revealed enormous vulnerabilities in the U.S. public-health infrastructure and suggested similar vulnerabilities in the agricultural infrastructure as well. The traditional public …

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