In 2011 NC State University received a $3 million graduate training grant from the National Science Foundation’s Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) program, titled "Genetic Engineering and Society: The Case of Transgenic Pests." The foundation's goal for IGERT programs is to foster interdisciplinary graduate education, and NC State's IGERT program is the first graduate program in the world specifically aimed at training graduate students to understand, build and assess impacts of transgenic organisms on ecosystems and societies. Our innovative program integrates disciplines as diverse as molecular genetics and anthropology, but the program focuses the efforts of students and faculty by limiting study to a small set of species that are targets for genetic pest management (http://geneticengsoc.ncsu.edu/).
The Genetic Engineering and Society Cluster of the Chancellor's Faculty Excellence Program is focused on developing a strong, sustained research and graduate training program that builds on our IGERT program to encompass broader reaches of genetic engineering, including transgenic microbes, crops and livestock, gene therapy and the emerging area of synthetic biology. A major goal of this program is to build trust, rigor and creativity among academic disciplines and publics. Our approach will be to first build excellence in the specific area of engineered pest species and then expand to other areas.
By building a unique interdisciplinary program that aims at transparency and inclusion of diverse perspectives in long-term, rigorous dialogue, we will have a global impact on the design and development of genetically engineered organisms. By combining expertise in biological sciences, social sciences and the humanities, we will help citizens and policymakers make informed decisions by giving them information developed through detailed research and thorough deliberation.
Four new faculty members, Zachary Brown, Jason Delborne, Jennifer Kuzma and Mark Robinson, have recently joined NC State as part of the Genetic Engineering and Society Cluster.
- Zachary Brown, Assistant Professor, Agricultural and Resource Economics
- Jason Delborne, Associate Professor of Science, Policy and Society
- Jennifer Kuzma, Goodnight-Glaxo Wellcome Distinguished Professor, Public and International Affairs
- Mark Robinson, Instructor, Sociology and Anthropology
Members of the Genetic Engineering and Society Cluster and guests at the cluster's 2014 end of year meeting.