Technology in and for Society: Innovating well for inclusive transitions


Richard Johnson

BIAC Technology & Innovation Committee (OECD) / iGEM Foundation

Chairman (BIAC) / Director (iGEM)


Rick Johnson plays multiple global and U.S. policy strategy and thought leadership roles in advancing: (1) synthetic biology/engineering biology and next-generation biotechnology; (2) emerging technologies for addressing societal grand challenges; (3) innovative business models; and (4) public-private, pre-competitive collaborations for translating research and technology into impact. Johnson has been a member of the (U.S.) National Academy of Sciences Board on Life Sciences, numerous NASEM national committees and science and security panels, and the recent U.S. national strategy review panel for the future of the National Academies and STI policy. He also was a member of the NASEM Synthetic Biology Forum; Co-Chair of the Six Academies Synthetic Biology Initiative among the U.S., UK, and China; and Chair of the NASEM “Safeguarding the Bioeconomy”. Rick currently serves as Director of: (i) the iGEM Foundation; (ii) BioMADE (the new U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Institute); (iii) the BioBricks Foundation/Stanford University; and (iii) the (U.S.) Engineering Biology Research Consortium (EBRC). On the international front, he is: (1) Chairman of the OECD/BIAC Science, Technology, and Innovation Committee; (2) Chairman of Australia’s International Advisory Committee for the ARC Centre of Excellence in Synthetic Biology; and (3) Co-Chair of the Global Forum on Engineering Biology. Rick is the CEO and founder of Global Helix LLC, a thought leadership and policy strategy firm for emerging technologies. After 30 years, Johnson retired as Senior Partner at Arnold & Porter in Washington, D.C. , where he represented leading research universities, non-profit institutes, and innovative companies on issues related to research, innovation, and global policy. For many years, Rick served on the MIT Corporation Committee, (Chairman) Brown University Biology & Medicine Council, and numerous global technology and innovation task forces. His graduate degrees are in both law and science. In addition to receiving his Juris Doctor degree from the Yale Law School where he was Editor of the Yale Law Journal, he received his graduate science degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he was a National Science Foundation National Fellow, and his undergraduate degree with highest honors from Brown University.

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