Meselson Center

The Meselson Center is dedicated to reducing risks from biological threats and emerging technologies. The center combines in-depth policy research with state-of-the-art technical research to provide policymakers with the information and expertise needed to prevent, prepare for, and mitigate large-scale catastrophes, such as pandemics.

Microbiology research scientist examining a petri dish containing a biohazard sample during an experiment in the laboratory, photo by Image Source/Adobe Stock

Photo by Image Source/Adobe Stock

Research Focus Areas


The primary area of work the Meselson Center focuses on is reducing risks of biological threats such as pandemics. This includes:

  • Biosurveillance: Supporting early detection and containment of outbreaks, with a particular emphasis on the detection of novel pathogens.
  • Dual-use research of concern on potential pandemic pathogens: Mitigating risks from such research while maximizing potential benefits.
  • Nucleic acid synthesis screening and other access controls: Ensuring that state of the art technology is used by experts for the benefit of all without being abused or accidentally misused.
  • AI-enabled biology: Understanding how artificial intelligence and related emerging technologies are affecting the biological field and how governance regimes will need to change given these developments.
  • Bioterrorism and democratization of risks: Understanding how technological developments interact with the circle of capability for bioattacks, and what can be done address those risks.
  • Cyberbiosecurity: Exploring how biotech systems should be secured in a world that is rapidly becoming more digitized, interconnected, and autonomous.

AI Security

The Meselson Center also works on topics in the intersection of artificial intelligence and information security. This includes:

  • Securing AI system: Ensuring that frontier artificial intelligence systems are secure against abuse, misuse and exploitation.
  • Cybersecurity capabilities of AI models: Understanding what AI models are capable of in the cybersecurity domain, what they will likely be capable of soon, and the implications of this for industry and policymakers.


Much of the Meselson Center’s research is independently initiated through unrestricted funding designated by RAND’s president and CEO to study these topics. Initial sources of funding include Open Philanthropy.

In addition, all RAND’s research publications include information about funders—including for those that receive direct, restricted support from sponsors.

To support the Meselson Center, contact