Asilomar Conference

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The 1975 Asilomar Conference was an international meeting at Asilomar, California organized to provide guidelines to regulate experiments manipulating DNA.

Over one hundred scientists and lawyers gathered to discuss the safety of recombining DNA from different species.[1] The meeting resulted in a set of NIH guidelines, "Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant DNA Molecules”, that have been revised several times since 1976.[2]

The conference was held due to potential safety hazards, leading many scientists to halt experiments using recombinant DNA technology. These debates gained exposure at the Asilomar Conference, where Joshua Lederberg was an outspoken supporter for the emerging fields of genetic engineering and biotechnology. After the establishment of the guidelines during the conference, scientists continued with their research, which increased fundamental knowledge about biology and the public’s interest in biomedical research.[3] This conference was the model for a more open dialog between scientists, government regulators and the public.


  1. Paul Berg, David Baltimore, Sydney Brenner, Richard O. Roblin III, and Maxine F. Singer. “Summary Statement of the Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA Molecules”. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. Vol. 72, No. 6, pp. 1981-1984, (June 1975)
  2. NIH Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant DNA Molecules (April 2002)
  3. Paul Berg and Maxine F. Singer. “The recombinant DNA controversy: Twenty years later”. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. Vol 92, pp. 9011-9013, (Sept. 1995).