The U.S. government will soon be asking university officials to comment on how best to implement recently released dual use research rules at the university level, a senior U.S. science official announced today.
"What needs to be ironed out and will be ironed out is how [dual use reviews are] sorted out at the institutional level," Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), said at a workshop sponsored by the National Academies in Washington, D.C.
The announcement marks the latest U.S. response to the controversy over a pair of studies that show how to make the H5N1 avian influenza virus transmissible in mammals. On 29 March, the government released a new policy that requires federal agencies that fund unclassified research to systematically review the potential risks of studies involving 15 "high consequence" pathogens and toxins, including H5N1. The reviews are designed to reduce the risks associated with dual use research of concern (DURC) that could be used for good or harm. The policy also requires the funders, scientists, and institutions to work together to develop plans for mitigating risk, including possibly altering the research or withholding research results.