Jonas Sandbrink

Researcher in Biosecurity, University of Oxford

I research the dual-use potential of emerging technologies and how to prevent catastrophic biological risks.

Please reach out: jonas.sandbrink@trinity.ox.ac.uk

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I am currently evaluating the dual-use risks of machine learning applications to biological engineering. Coming up to the end of my PhD, I am looking for opportunities to make a difference around biosecurity and emerging technology risks at the intersection of research and policy – so please reach out if you want to collaborate or have relevant job opportunities which require a high degree of agency, strategic thinking, and work with diverse stakeholders!


Biography

Jonas Sandbrink is a doctoral researcher at the Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford. His doctoral research involves studying the security aspects of emerging technologies to create and engineer viruses. He is currently seconded as Biological Security Advisor to the UK Cabinet Office. Until recently, he worked as a Biosecurity Advisor for Google DeepMind.

Previously, Jonas was a researcher at the Future of Humanity Institute, where he worked on mitigating risks of emerging technologies and preventing catastrophic biological risks. Jonas was an Emerging Leaders in Biosecurity Fellow at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, an Ending Bioweapons Fellow at the Council on Strategic Risks, and has worked as a consultant for the Nuclear Threat Initiative’s Global Biological Policy and Programs team. Before focusing on security aspects of emerging technologies, he researched platform vaccine technologies and infectious disease epidemiology. Jonas was part of the winning team of the 2020 Next Generation for Biosecurity Competition. He holds a Bachelor in Medical Sciences from the University of Oxford.


Publications

Biotechnology governance

Smith JA, Sandbrink JB. Biosecurity in an age of open science. PLOS Biology 2022;20:e3001600. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.3001600.

Sandbrink JB, Alley EC, Watson MC, Koblentz GD, Esvelt KM. Insidious Insights: Implications of viral vector engineering for pathogen enhancement. Gene Ther 2022:1–4. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41434-021-00312-3.

Sandbrink JB, Koblentz GD. Biosecurity risks associated with vaccine platform technologies. Vaccine 2021. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.vaccine.2021.02.023.

Pannu J, Sandbrink JB, Watson M, Palmer MJ, Relman DA. Protocols and risks: when less is more. Nat Protoc 2021:1–2. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41596-021-00655-6.

Musunuri S, Sandbrink JB, Monrad JT, Palmer MJ, Koblentz GD. Rapid Proliferation of Pandemic Research: Implications for Dual-Use Risks. MBio n.d.;0:e01864-21. https://doi.org/10.1128/mBio.01864-21.

Sandbrink JB, Watson MC, Hebbeler AM, Esvelt KM. Safety and security concerns regarding transmissible vaccines. Nature Ecology & Evolution 2021;5:405–6. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41559-021-01394-3.

Epidemiology

Leech G, Rogers-Smith C, Monrad JT, Sandbrink JB, Snodin B, Zinkov R, et al. Mask wearing in community settings reduces SARS-CoV-2 transmission. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 2022;119:e2119266119. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2119266119.

Altman G, Ahuja J, Monrad JT, Dhaliwal G, Rogers-Smith C, Leech G, et al. A dataset of non-pharmaceutical interventions on SARS-CoV-2 in Europe. Sci Data 2022;9:145. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41597-022-01175-y.

Sharma M, Mindermann S, Rogers-Smith C, Leech G, Snodin B, Ahuja J, et al. Understanding the effectiveness of government interventions against the resurgence of COVID-19 in Europe. Nat Commun 2021;12:5820. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-26013-4.

Vaccine technologies

Sandbrink JB, Koblentz GD. Biosecurity risks associated with vaccine platform technologies. Vaccine 2021. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.vaccine.2021.02.023.

Monrad JT, Sandbrink JB, Cherian NG. Promoting versatile vaccine development for emerging pandemics. Npj Vaccines 2021;6:1–7. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41541-021-00290-y.

Sandbrink JB, Shattock RJ. RNA Vaccines: A Suitable Platform for Tackling Emerging Pandemics? Front Immunol 2020;11:608460. https://doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2020.608460.

Non peer-reviewed writing

How to minimize COVID’s impacts once the federal emergency “ends”
Together with Lynn Klotz
Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, 2023

Pandemic Pathogens as Biological Weapons: Revisiting German Biodefense
Together with Janika Schmitt
49security, 2023

Sandbrink JB, Hobbs H, Swett JL, Dafoe A, Sandberg A. Differential technology development: a responsible innovation principle for navigating technology risks. Rochester, NY: Social Science Research Network; 2022. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=4213670

Sandbrink J, Ahuja J, Swett J, Koblentz G, Standley C. Mitigating Biosecurity Challenges of Wildlife Virus Discovery and Characterisation. Rochester, NY: Social Science Research Network; 2022. https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4035760.

As self-spreading vaccine technology moves forward, dialogue on its risks should follow
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 2022


Media coverage of my work

Can we stop the next pandemic by seeking out deadly viruses in the wild?
Vox, 2022

Making Science More Open Is Good for Research—but Bad for Security
WIRED, 2022

The controversial quest to make a ‘contagious’ vaccine
National Geographic, 2022

When scientific information is dangerous
Vox, 2022

Kevin Esvelt and Jonas Sandbrink on Risks from Biological Research
Hear this Idea, 2022 (Podcast)