UCL Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy


STEaPP PhD student, Alexandra Klein, wins Next Generation for Biosecurity Competition

18 January 2024

Alexandra Klein, PhD student within UCL’s Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy and Research Assistant at the University of Cambridge, has won the Next Generation for Biosecurity Competition alongside two colleagues from the University of Cambridge.

The competition, run by NTI in partnership with the Next Generation for Global Health Security Network, the iGEM Foundation, SynBio Africa, Global Health Security Network and 80,000 Hours, sought policy proposals to promote biosecurity-by-design to bolster emerging bio-economies.

The competition was entered by students and early-career professionals from over 16 countries and was judged by international expert panel of more than 20 judges.

Three winners of competition presenting their work
Alexandra and her team, Gurpreet Dhaliwal and Askar Kleefeldt, both PhD students at the University of Cambridge, proposed a ‘biosecurity-by-design’ approach to ensure that biosecurity is integrated into every stage of the life science research and development pipeline, especially project conceptualization, in their winning paper titled Biosecurity-by-Design to Safeguard Emerging Bioeconomies: Integrating Biosecurity Considerations into the Complete Biotechnology Innovation and Development Pipeline’.


The winners were invited to attend the Biological Weapons Convention Meeting of States Parties in Geneva, Switzerland, and present their paper during an NTI side event, ‘The Convergence of AI and the Life Sciences: Safeguarding Biotechnology, Bolstering Biosecurity, and Supporting Bioeconomies’.

Alexandra in Geneva
Upon winning the competition, Alexandra said “I am so delighted that our team won the Next Generation for Biosecurity competition! I've really admired the research produced by the Nuclear Threat Initiative since entering the Biosecurity field, so it's very motivating to see our work acknowledged by such a respected organisation.


It was an incredible experience to present our report at a side event at the Biological Weapons Convention meetings, a key international venue for my field. I attended the meetings previously in 2022, so it was very exciting to be back in Geneva but this time giving a presentation to delegates from all over the world! Moreover, the opportunity to network and engage with diplomats involved in biosecurity policymaking was immensely valuable for my PhD research.

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