Systems and Synthetic Biology

, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp 127–138 | Cite as

Interactive learning and action: realizing the promise of synthetic biology for global health

  • A. Wieke Betten
  • Anneloes Roelofsen
  • Jacqueline E. W. Broerse
Research Article

Abstract

The emerging field of synthetic biology has the potential to improve global health. For example, synthetic biology could contribute to efforts at vaccine development in a context in which vaccines and immunization have been identified by the international community as being crucial to international development efforts and, in particular, the millennium development goals. However, past experience with innovations shows that realizing a technology’s potential can be difficult and complex. To achieve better societal embedding of synthetic biology and to make sure it reaches its potential, science and technology development should be made more inclusive and interactive. Responsible research and innovation is based on the premise that a broad range of stakeholders with different views, needs and ideas should have a voice in the technological development and deployment process. The interactive learning and action (ILA) approach has been developed as a methodology to bring societal stakeholders into a science and technology development process. This paper proposes an ILA in five phases for an international effort, with national case studies, to develop socially robust applications of synthetic biology for global health, based on the example of vaccine development. The design is based on results of a recently initiated ILA project on synthetic biology; results from other interactive initiatives described in the literature; and examples of possible applications of synthetic biology for global health that are currently being developed.

Keywords

Responsible research and innovation Multi-stakeholder participation Synthetic biology, global health Interactive learning and action 

References

  1. Anderson J, Strelkowa N, Stan G-B et al (2012) Engineering and ethical perspectives in synthetic biology. Rigorous, robust and predictable designs, public engagement and a modern ethical framework are vital to the continued success of synthetic biology. EMBO Rep 13:584–590. doi:10.1038/embor.2012.81 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Borup M, Brown N, Konrad K, van Lente H (2006) The sociology of expectations in science and technology. Technol Anal Strateg 18:285–298CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Broerse JEW (1998) Towards a new development strategy: How to include small-scale farmers in the technological innovation process. Eburon, Delft, The NetherlandsGoogle Scholar
  4. Broerse JEW (2013) Naar een inclusief innovatieproces in de gezondheids—en levenswetenschappen. Inaugurele rede. VU University Press, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  5. Broerse JEW, Bunders JFG (2000) Requirements for biotechnology development: the necessity for an interactive and participatory innovation process. Int J Biotechnol 2:275–296CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Broerse JEW, Zweekhorst MBM, van Rensen AJML, de Haan MJM (2010) Involving burn survivors in agenda setting on burn research: an added value? Burns 36:217–231PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bunders JFG, Broerse JEW, Keil F, Pohl C, Scholz RW, Zweekhorst MBM (2010) How can transdisciplinary research contribute to knowledge democracy? In: In’t Veld RJ (ed) Knowledge democracy—consequences for science, politics and media. Springer, Heidelberg, pp 125–152Google Scholar
  8. Burgess DC, Burgess MA, Leask J (2006) The MMR vaccination and autism controversy in United Kingdom 1998–2005: inevitable community outrage or a failure of risk communication? Vaccine 24:3921–3928PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Caron-Flinterman JF, Broerse JEW, Teerling J et al (2006) Stakeholder participation in health research agenda setting: the case of asthma and COPD research in the Netherlands. Sci Publ Policy 33:291–304CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cheyne J (1989) Vaccine delivery management. Rev Infect Dis 11:S617–S622PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cooper LZ, Larson HJ, Katz SL (2008) Protecting public trust in immunization. J Pediatr 122:149–153CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. DeCockBuning TJ, Regeer BJ, Bunders JFG (2008) Biotechnology and food: towards a societal agenda in 10 steps. RMNO, The HagueGoogle Scholar
  13. Delgado A, Porcar M (2013) Designing de novo: interdisciplinary debates in synthetic biology. Int J Syst Synth Biol. doi:10.1007/s11693-013-9106-6
  14. Elberse JE, Caron-Flinterman JF, Broerse JEW (2011) Patient-expert partnerships in research: how to stimulate inclusion of patient perspectives. Health Expect. doi:10.1111/j.1369-7625.2010.00647.x
  15. Feenberg A (1999) Questioning technology. Routledge, LondonGoogle Scholar
  16. Flier (2009) Health care reform: without a correct diagnosis, there is no cure. J Clin Invest 119:2850–2852Google Scholar
  17. Fuller S (2000) The governance of science: ideology and the future of the open society. Open University Press, Buckingham, PhiladelphiaGoogle Scholar
  18. Funtowicz SO, Ravetz JR (1993) Science for the post-normal age. Futures 25:739–755Google Scholar
  19. Gibbons M, Limoges C, Nowotny H, Schwartzman S, Scott P, Trow M (1994) The new production of knowledge: the dynamics of science and research in contemporary societies. Sage, LondonGoogle Scholar
  20. Godin B (2006) The linear model of innovation: the historical construction of an analytical framework. Sci Technol Human Values doi:10.1177/0162243906291865
  21. Grin J, Grunwald A (2000) Vision assessment: shaping technology in 21st century society. Towards a repertoire for technology assessment. Springer, HeidelbergCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Grin J, van de Graaf H, Hoppe R (1997) Interactive technology assessment: a guide. Rathenau Institute, The Hague, The NetherlandsGoogle Scholar
  23. Hagendijk R, Irwin A (2006) Public deliberation and governance: engaging with science and technology in contemporary Europe. Minerva 44(2):167–184CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hardon A, Blume SS (2005) Shifts in global immunisation goals (1984–2004): unfinished agendas and mixed results. Soc Sci Med 60:345–356PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Irwin A (1995) Citizen science: a study of people, expertise and sustainable development. Routledge, LondonGoogle Scholar
  26. Irwin A (2001) Constructing the scientific citizen: science and democracy in the biosciences. Public Underst Sci 10(1):1–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Jain A, Bhatia P, Chugh A (2012) Microbial synthetic biology for human therapeutics. Int J Syst Synth Biol. doi:10.1007/s11693-012-9092-0
  28. Jasanoff S (2003) Technologies of humility: citizen participation in governing science. Minerva 41(3):223–244CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Keasling JD (2008) Synthetic biology for synthetic chemistry. ACS Chem Biol. doi:10.1021/cb7002434
  30. Klein JT et al (2001) Transdisciplinarity: joint problem solving among science, technology and society. An effective way for managing complexity. Birkhauser Verslag, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  31. Kloet RR (2011) Realizing societal ambitions in innovative research programs: the case of the Dutch Ecogenomics Consortium. Oisterwijk, The NetherlandsGoogle Scholar
  32. Minakawa N, Dida GO, Sonye GO, Futami K, Kaneko S (2008) Unforeseen misuses of bed nets in fishing villages along Lake Victoria. Malar J. doi:10.1186/1475-2875-7-165
  33. Mitcham C (1999) Why the public should participate in technical decision making. In: von Schomberg R (ed) Democratising technology: theory and practice of a deliberative technology policy. International Centre for Human and Public Affairs, Hengelo, The Netherlands, pp 39–50Google Scholar
  34. Navid EL, Einsiedel EF (2012) Synthetic biology in the Science Café: what have we learned about public engagement? J Sci Commun 11:A02Google Scholar
  35. Nowotny H, Scott P, Gibbons M (2001) Re-thinking science: knowledge and the public in an age of uncertainty. Polity Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  36. O’Shaughnessy PT (2008) Parachuting cats and crushed eggs the controversy over the use of DDT to control malaria. Am J Public Health. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2007.122523
  37. Owen R, Macnaghten P, Stilgoe J (2012) Responsible research and innovation: From science in society to science for society, with society. Sci Publ Policy. doi:10.1093/scipol/scs093
  38. Pittens CACM, Elberse JE, Visse M, Abma TA, Broerse JEW (2013) Research agendas involving patients: factors that facilitate or impede translation of patients’ perspectives in programming and implementation. Manuscript submitted for publicationGoogle Scholar
  39. Regeer BJ, Bunders JFG (2009) Knowledge co-creation: interaction between science and society. A transdisciplinary approach to complex societal issues. RMNO/COS, The HagueGoogle Scholar
  40. Rip A, Misa TJ, Schot JW (1995) Managing technology in society. Pinter Publishers, London, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  41. Robinson DKR, Ruivenkamp M, Rip A (2007) Tracking the evolution of new and emerging S&T via statement-linkages: vision assessment in molecular machines. Scientometrics 70:831–858CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Roelofsen A (2011) Exploring the future of ecogenomics: constructive technology Assessment and emerging technologies. Ridderprint, RidderkerkGoogle Scholar
  43. Roelofsen A, Broerse JEW, de Cock Buning TJ, Bunders JFG (2008) Exploring the future of ecological genomics: integrating CTA with vision assessment. Technol Forecast Soc Change 75:334–355CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Roelofsen A, Kloet R, Broerse JEW, de Cock Buning TJ, Bunders JFG (2010) Guiding visions in ecological genomics: a first step to exploring the future. New Genet Soc 29:19–36CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Schmidt M, Ganguli-Mitra A, Torgersen H et al (2009) A priority paper for the societal and ethical aspects of synthetic biology. Int J Syst Synth Biol. doi: 10.1007/s11693-009-9034-7
  46. Schon D, Rein M (1994) Frame reflection: resolving intractable policy issues. Basic Books, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  47. Sismondo S (2011) An introduction to science and technology studies. Blackwell, LondonGoogle Scholar
  48. Swaans CPM, Broerse JEW, Bunders JFG (2006) Agriculture and HIV/AIDS: a challenge for integrated and interactive approaches. J Agr Educ Ext 12:231–247CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Van der Wilt GJ, Reuzel RPB (2012) A transdisciplinary approach to the evaluation of medical technology: the case of cochlear implants for prelingually deaf children. In: Broerse JEW, Bunders JFG (eds) Transitions in health systems: dealing with persistent problems. VU University Press, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, pp 115–128Google Scholar
  50. Weldon, S. (2004). Public engagement in genetics: a review of current practice in the UK. A report for NOWGEN. Lancaster University. Accessed 20 Dec 2012. http://nowgen.net/publication_media/nowgenreview3.pdf
  51. World Health Organization (2010) Responsible life sciences research for global health security: a guidance document. Geneva, SwitzerlandGoogle Scholar
  52. Wynne B (1995) The public understanding of science. In: Jasanoff S, Markle GE, Peterson JC, Pinch T (eds) Handbook of science and technology studies. Sage, Thousand Oaks, CAGoogle Scholar
  53. Wynne B (2002) Risk and environment as legitimatory discourses of technology: reflexivity inside out? Curr Sociol 50:459–477Google Scholar
  54. Zhang JY (2012) The art of trans-boundary governance: the case of synthetic biology. Int J Syst Synth Biol. doi:10.1007/s11693-012-9097-8
  55. Zhang J, Marris C, Rose N (2011) The transnational governance of synthetic biology: scientific uncertainty, cross-borderness and the “art” of governance. BIOS Working Paper, BIOS, London School of Economics and Political Science http://royalsociety.org/uploadedFiles/Royal_Society_Content/policy/publications/2011/4294977685.pdf. Accessed 5 Mar 2013

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Wieke Betten
    • 1
  • Anneloes Roelofsen
    • 1
  • Jacqueline E. W. Broerse
    • 1
  1. 1.Athena Institute for Research on Innovation and Communication in Health and Life SciencesVU University AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations