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Policy

Adviser Responds On Dual-Use Research

by William G. Schulz
April 23, 2012 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 90, ISSUE 17

Presidential science adviser John P. Holdren has responded to a request from Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.) for more information about the conduct and oversight of federally funded dual-use research in the life sciences. Sensenbrenner, vice chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space & Technology, wrote to Holdren on March 1 expressing concern that the Obama Administration is not giving enough attention to the subject. Sensenbrenner asked about recent research on H5N1 avian influenza, about the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity’s (NSABB’s) process for weighing the risks and benefits of dual-use research, and about the National Institutes of Health’s review system for dual-use life sciences research. In response, Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy, cited two documents as cornerstones for the Administration’s strategy. They are NSABB’s 2007 “Proposed Framework for the Oversight of Dual Use Life Sciences Research” and a policy on dual-use research released in late March (C&EN, April 9, page 7). “The new policy is a good, if belated, first step,” Sensenbrenner says, “and I will be watching its implementation closely.”

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