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Policy Lates: Dodging a Biological Bullet

Posted by on December 12, 2014

The Society’s latest Policy Lates event ‘Dodging a Biological Bullet: What can we learn from the US and Europe about Biosecurity?’ saw international experts come together to discuss what should be done about dual-use research, which has the potential to be misused for harmful purposes.

For an introduction to dual-use and biosecurity read ‘Dual-use for Dummies’ on our blog.
This event built on the biosecurity debate at a previous Policy Lates ‘Bioscience to bioweapons: how do we benefit from open dual-use research while avoiding misuse?’


Professor Mike Imperiale – Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Michigan, United States. Read Mike’s article ‘What are we pausing? on our blog. In his talk he gives a history of biosecurity in the US and how they have responded to the H5N1 avian influenza controversy.

Dr Koos van der Bruggen – Secretary of the Biosecurity Working Group at the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Koos discusses the developing biosecurity policy in the Netherlands which is where one of the research groups that modified the H5N1 avian influenza virus to make it transmissible between mammals was based.

Professor Simon Wain-Hobson – Professor of Virology, Institut Pasteur, France. Simon made his views clear before the Policy Lates event in his blog post for the Society. In his talk he discusses the risks of these types of experiments and controversially stated that he believes the benefits are minimal ‘they don’t give us drugs, vaccines, insight into pandemics’.

Professor Kathryn Nixdorff – Professor of Microbiology and Genetics, Darmstadt University of Technology, Germany. Kathryn announced the recent statement from the German Ethics Council that provides a comprehensive review with recommendations on dual use research.

Professor Malcolm Dando FSB (chair) –Professor of International Security, University of Bradford, gives and brief overview of biosecurity in the UK.

David Carr – Policy Adviser at the Wellcome Trust presents the draft joint statement from the BBSRC, MRC and Wellcome Trust.

There is a news report of the event and there will be a write up in the first issue of the Biologist of 2015.

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