Advisory Board

Stephen M. Maurer, J.D.

The New Scientist article Synthetic biologists reject controversial guidelines said

Researchers in the new field of synthetic biology have pledged to develop better tools to identify anyone trying to order the DNA needed to make deadly pathogens. But at the Synthetic Biology 2.0 meeting in Berkeley, California, they decided against adopting a controversial code of conduct intended to prevent their technologies being used to make new bioweapons…
Some likened the effort to the 1975 Asilomar meeting, at which the pioneers of genetic engineering agreed to a temporary moratorium on some experiments, until the technology’s safety had been further studied.
However, the synthetic biology proposal, drafted by Stephen Maurer, a lawyer at the University of California, Berkeley, proved controversial. On the eve of the meeting, 35 groups including GeneWatch and Greenpeace International issued an open letter calling on synthetic biologists to abandon the proposal, and instead subject the field to public debate and government regulation. The groups also argued that the draft neglected environmental and other risks.

Stephen M. Maurer, J.D. was author of this groundbreaking proposal to finally have a code of conduct for the field of synthetic biology. He is Director of the Goldman School Project at the University of California, Berkeley on Information Technology and Homeland Security (“ITHS”). ITHS serves as a focal point for the School’s science, innovation, technology initiatives. He teaches and writes in the fields of homeland security, innovation policy, and the new economy. He has been an invited speaker at conferences hosted by US National Academy of Sciences, US National Institutes of Health, US Department of Transportation, The Human Genome Organization, Duke University Law School, Stanford University, and The University of California at Berkeley.
From 1982 to 1996, Steve practiced high technology and intellectual property litigation at leading law firms in Arizona and California. During that time he represented such diverse clients as IBM, Apple, Aerojet General Corporation, and the Navajo Nation.
He has been a lecturer at the Goldman School since 1999. During that time he has written extensively on a variety of topics including database policy, academic/industry relations, patent law, antitrust, and open source biology. His research has appeared in numerous journals including Nature, Science and Economica. He teaches courses on the New Economy, Science Policy, and Information Technology. His current research interests range from Homeland Security to designing better institutions for neglected disease research.
Steve authored Taking the Pulse of Neutron Stars in Sky and Telescope, and coauthored Profit Neutrality in Licensing: The Boundary Between Antitrust Law and Patent Law in National Bureau of Economic Research, Europe’s Database Experiment in Science, Science’s Neglected Legacy in Nature, Anatomy of a Supernova in Sky and Telescope, and Finding Cures for Tropical Disease: Is Open Source the Answer? in Public Library of Science: Medicine.
Steve earned a B.A. (summa cum laude) from Yale University in 1979, a J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1982, did advanced coursework in Economics from U.C. Berkeley in 1997, and has extensive knowledge of astronomy, physics, and biotechnology.