Dr. Markus Schmidt is founder and team leader of BIOFACTION KG, a research, technology assessment and art-science company in Vienna, Austria. With an educational background in electronic engineering, biology and environmental risk assessment he has carried out environmental risk assessment and safety and public perception studies in a number of science and technology fields such as GM-crops, gene therapy, nanotechnology, converging technologies, and synthetic biology.
He carried out several research projects, for example SYNBIOSAFE, e.g. the first European project on safety and ethics of synthetic biology, on the depiction of synthetic biology in movies, or standardization for robust bioengineering of new-to-nature biological properties.
Markus Schmidt produced science policy reports for the Office of Technology Assessment at the German Bundestag (on GM-crops in China), and the Austrian Ministry of Transport, Innovation and Technology (nanotechnology and converging technologies). He served as an advisor to the European Group on Ethics (EGE) of the European Commission, the US Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, the J Craig Venter Institute, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Bioethics Council of the German Parliament and is currently member of the EC’s Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) working group on synthetic biology. He is the author of several peer-reviewed articles, edited a special issue and two books about synthetic biology and its societal ramifications, and produced – together with Camillo Meinhart – several documentary films.
In addition to his scientific work, he engages in the collaboration between art and science, e.g. producing the BIO·FICTION Science Art Film Festival series (2011 and 2014), the art exhibition synth-ethic (2011), engaging and supporting a number of artists to explore artistic and creative ideas on the future of biotechnology, which also led him to co-found the Vienna based Bioart-club Pavillon 35.