On Thursday, a U.S. Senate committee will hold a hearing that will explore how the government should regulate dual use research of concern (DURC) that could be used for good and evil. The hearings come in the wake of controversy over two studies that show how to make the H5N1 avian influenza virus transmissible between mammals, potentially setting off a pandemic. In response to that episode, the U.S. government recently adopted new rules for reviewing some proposed studies for DURC, and other nations are considering similar rules.
But is some biological research simply too dangerous to publish—or conduct in the first place? Will DURC rules unnecessarily bottle up potentially beneficial research? Or do they fall short of keeping us safe? How do we find the right balance between the free flow of science and the need for security?
Join us for a live chat at 3 p.m. EDT on Thursday, 26 April, on this page. You can leave your questions in the comment box below before the chat starts. The full text of the chat will be archived on this page.
Gregory Viglianti is the director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Microbiology at the Boston University (BU) School of Medicine. He helped set up one of the first screening programs for dual use research at a U.S. university, and helps train BU faculty members on dual use issues.