their perceptions of the biosecurity risk and their views about a variety of conditions that could facilitate a biorterror attack. The questionnaire was organized around the potential responsibilities of individuals and institutions so the presentation of results in the “Responsibility for Oversight” section follows that structure. The final section on “Policy” is focused on what steps the life scientists who responded to the survey support to reduce the potential that research results could pose a threat to national security. This analysis yielded results that the committee believes can help inform educational and outreach efforts to increase awareness and enhance oversight of research that raises concerns about dual use potential.
As noted in Chapter 2, about 95 percent of the respondents to the survey had conducted or managed research at some point in their careers and 80 percent of those who had were also currently conducting or managing research. This section focuses on the types of research that these scientists conduct, specifically whether they considered their research to be dual use, their research involved any of seven categories of experiments identified by the National Science Advisory Board on Biosecurity (NSABB 2007), or their research involved select agents. Each of these types of research has been identified as producing the sort of results that raise concerns about potential misuse. The terms are discussed below, including an explanation of the definitions provided to survey participants.
Asking scientists about their experiences with dual use research is complicated by the fact that the term “dual use” can have different definitions.1 The committee was not certain if scientists were familiar with the concept of dual use research of concern as it is used by the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB 2007). To help avoid confusion, the survey provided the following definition of dual use research: “In recent years, members of the scientific and security policy communities have raised concerns about the potential for misuse of knowledge, tools and techniques for purposes of bioterrorism. Such research is sometimes called ‘dual use’ research because, although the research is intended only for beneficial purposes, it could be misapplied.” On the basis of this definition, survey participants were asked whether they considered any