Course will cover the latest applications of synthetic biology in clinical research and help IBC members prepare to review gene therapy protocols.

Princeton, NJ – Oct. 11, 2018 – WIRB-Copernicus Group® (WCG™), the world’s leading provider of solutions that measurably improve the quality and efficiency of clinical research, today announced that one of its thought leaders will lead a human gene transfer educational course at the American Biological Safety Association (ABSA) 61st Annual Biological Safety Conference. The conference will be held from Oct. 12-17 at the Charleston Convention Center in Charleston, SC.

Daniel Kavanagh, PhD, WCG senior scientific advisor, gene therapy and scientific lead for the company’s Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) Services division, will conduct the course entitled “Gene Editing, Logic Gates, and Synthetic Biology in Human Gene Transfer” from 1-5 p.m. on Oct. 14.

“As researchers are increasingly developing novel artificial mechanisms to facilitate new biological functions for human gene transfer, IBC members are finding that they require a working knowledge of synthetic molecular biology to be able to review these clinical trial protocols appropriately,” said Dr. Kavanagh. “We are proud to be able to share our knowledge of these important new techniques, the genesis of which has been greatly accelerated by the advent of CRISPR and other gene-editing technologies, with our peers.”

This course will cover how synthetic biology is used in experimental clinical applications, with a particular focus on cancer immunotherapy. For example, with Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T cells, researchers design T cells with synthetic antigen receptors to find and destroy cancer cells. Dr. Kavanagh will discuss the mechanisms that allow T cells to target cancer cells without harming healthy tissue. He will also describe the tools that researchers can use to enhance on-target killing of cancer cells while avoiding off-target side effects.

This course will address the use of synthetic biology in multiple ways. For example, it will cover T cell signaling in response to cancer at the molecular level. At the macro level, it will provide participants with hands-on experience of developing an experimental protocol and conducting a mock IBC review for a study involving synthetic biology. It will also take a look into the future and explore other potential clinical applications, such as the creation of probiotic microbes.

Dr. Kavanagh works closely with sponsors, contract research organizations (CROs), and institutions to establish IBC oversight for gene transfer trials. He was also recently appointed to the ABSA Technical & Regulatory Review Committee.

Prior to joining WCG, Dr. Kavanagh was assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, assistant immunologist at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), and a principal investigator studying infectious diseases at the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard.

WCG will also be exhibiting at the ABSA conference and have experts on site to answer technical questions.

Additional information about this conference is available at or

About WCG

WCG is the world’s leading provider of solutions that measurably improve the quality and efficiency of clinical research. Comprised of two divisions, the industry’s first central IRB – WCG IRB – and first clinical services organization, WCG enables biopharmaceutical companies, CROs, and institutions to advance the delivery of new treatments and therapies to patients, while maintaining the highest standards of human participant protection. For more information, please visit, or follow us on Twitter @WCGClinical or LinkedIn.