Frequently Asked Questions

What is BEINGS 2015?

BEINGS 2015 (Biotechnology and the Ethical Imagination: A Global Summit 2015) will be a gathering of over 200 thought leaders from the world's top 30 biotechnology producing countries to craft a set of global standards for cellular biotechnologies. BEINGS 2015 will focus on cellular biotechnologies, such as synthetic biology, stem cell research, and other genetic manipulations of human and animal cells. Scientists, policy makers, ethicists, business leaders, NGO leaders, and creative thinkers from philosophy, religion, the arts, and the humanities will work together to reach consensus on an ethical vision that can provide countries, researchers, and the biotechnology sector with a set of standards to use as policy guidelines in the development of transformative biotechnologies. We have a vision of a consensus document that is aspirational as well as proscriptive; one that asks how cellular biotechnologies can help contribute to human flourishing, as well as asking which approaches or specific applications of these powerful technologies we might want to control.

Where and when is BEINGS 2015?

The inaugural meeting of BEINGS 2015 will take place May 17-19, 2015, in Atlanta, GA. The gathering will take place at the beautiful Tabernacle theater. The newly renovated Westin Hotel, a couple of blocks away, will be our BEINGS 2015 host hotel.

Who is coming to BEINGS 2015?

A distinguished faculty will help frame the issues – so far we have commitments from such world figures such as George Church, Steve Pinker, Arthur Caplan, and Michael Sandel, among others. The core of BEINGS 2015 is the over 400 “delegates,” thought leaders from the top 30 biotech producing countries of the world who will help identify the issues and ultimately draft the consensus document.  In addition, over 800 visitors/observers will attend, who will be able to offer input to the delegates. 

How did you choose the countries?

We identified our top 30 countries in biotechnology using an algorithm developed by Scientific American to create an intensity score for each country, and then ranking them. The rankings are based on a metrics that assess a country’s accomplishments in biotechnology in five categories: public biotechnology company employees per capita, public biotech company revenues by GDP, biotech patents per total patents, business expenditures on biotechnology R&D, and knowledge and technology intensive industries. The intensity measurement compares the success of larger countries while also identifying smaller countries with high biotechnological achievement. 

How are you choosing the delegates?

We are using a multifaceted approach to identify the 200 delegates for BEINGS 2015.  The goal is to have a diverse set of delegates by every measure, including a spectrum of approaches and ideologies to the challenges of cellular technologies.  In order to assure the participation of all stakeholders, we first are reaching out to the countries’ consulates and consulate generals in the Atlanta area and surrounding states. We have contacted embassies, attachés, and national science liaisons for many countries, and have contacted leaders of the National Academies of Science in each country through the International Academies of Science committee.  In addition, we are selectively including organizations that advocate for and against various approaches to the challenges of cellular biotechnology, transnational organizations with a stake in the issues, representatives of religious organizations, regional representatives, professional societies, and advocacy groups both supportive of, and critical of, various approaches and technologies.  The delegate pool includes scientists, policy makers, and laypeople and professionals in religion, the arts, and the humanities.  We are dedicated to having all voices and perspectives at the table when we discuss these important topics.

What is the process you will use to draft a consensus document?

We have been collecting hundreds of sets of regulations, principles, and standards that have been written by governmental bodies, university conferences, NGOs, and professional societies all over the world.  Before the Summit begins, we will poll our delegates to determine what they believe are the pressing ethical and policy concerns confronting biotechnological development.  Using the existing sets of standards and the issues identified by the delegates, we will establish between 5-10 general topic areas that will help organize the discussion and the working groups who will actually begin to draft the statement.

Delegates will volunteer for working groups that will meet on the second day of the Summit and will continue to work for the next 6 months to draft proposed principles for their area of inquiry. Drafts will be circulated to the 200 delegates for comments.  Over the following six months a consensus document will emerge, and we are hopeful that it will serve as a global benchmark for biotechnology policy.

Who else is involved?

To facilitate the enormous scope of this ambitious effort, we have gathered together a host of advisory bodies:

  • A University Partner's Board of 15 Georgia-based colleges and universities, including GA Tech, GA State, University of GA, Morehouse, and others, and are soliciting other university partners nationally and internationally
  • A coalition of the 29 consulates and ambassadors of the participant countries, including their science liaisons and National Academies of Science
  • An international Academic Advisory Board of over 40 top thought leaders to help guide the Summit
  • A Strategic Advisory Board that includes representatives from top civic and NGO organizations in our region
  • A local Academic Advisory Board to help identify delegates and faculty
  • Cooperation and consultation from the AAAS, the National Academies of Science, the World Health Organization, and many smaller NGOs.

Who is funding the Summit?

The Summit will be funded from a diverse set of sources, including corporations (seed funding was given by the Coca-Cola Foundation), universities, civic organizations, private foundations, and by BEINGS 2015 ticket revenues.

How can I contribute?

We are committed to developing partnerships, being inclusive, and welcoming volunteers and professionals who are willing to contribute to this important endeavor.  Please get in touch with the BEINGS 2015 organizers by emailing us at BEINGS2015@EMORY.EDU, or visiting our website WWW.BEINGS2015.ORG.

Contact us if you have any additional questions

For summit information:
Tanya Woodward
Communications Manager
For sponsorship information:
Jennifer Hill
Development & Planning Officer