A senior Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives is asking more questions about how the U.S. government reviewed two controversial H5N1 avian influenza studies, and how it wrote a new policy for reviewing taxpayer-funded studies that might be used for good and evil.
Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) today sent a letter to Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), asking him to clarify how the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) reached its recent decision to recommend publication of the two studies after recommending against publication late last year. The letter also asks for more information on which government officials were involved in new rules for reviewing taxpayer-funded research that might be "dual-use research of concern" (DURC).
"It appears that the Administration was unprepared for the possibility that the NSABB might recommend against publication, and then, caught on its heels, sought to avoid the recommendation," Sensenbrenner wrote. "If true, this response does little to prepare the United States government to better handle similar issues in the future. I am asking the NIH to clarify exactly where the new government policy guidelines came from and how they will be implemented."