The federal government has finalized a rule to better regulate life sciences research involving dangerous agents at universities and other research centers. So-called ‘dual use research’ has the potential to generate knowledge, products, or technologies that could be intentionally used for harmful purposes. The rulemaking applies to a subset of dual use research that poses “a significant threat with broad potential consequences to public health and safety, agricultural crops and other plants, animals, the environment, materiel, or national security.”
Scientists whose federally funded research involves 15 dangerous microbes or toxins will have to notify a special review committee at their institution about dual use studies. Any dual use research that the committee sees as potentially harmful will have to be reported to the funding agency and have a risk mitigation plan.
The new policy complements a March 2012 federal policy that describes the responsibilities of federal agencies in addressing dual use research of concern. The rule goes into effect on 24 September 2015. Additional resources are available at http://www.phe.gov/s3/dualuse/Pages/default.aspx.
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