BOX 3-4

Illustrative Respondent Comments About Responsibility for Oversight of Research

“I strongly believe that dual use vigilance starts with the researcher and the editors of journals. Therefore extensive education of these groups about the issues and the best practices is urgent. I strongly believe that the role of government should be to primarily serve as an educational unit not a regulatory unit. Creating an advisory board that establishes and continually reviews best practices and educational goals is crucial. Oversight should happen at the individual institutional level similar to that of the IRB process with the advisory committee setting best practices for the individual institutional dual use committees.”

“Regulations should be designed to encourage self-policing by institutions and principal investigators with some federal oversight. Comparable regulatory examples are radiation, cancerous agent, chemical mutagen, and animal handling.”

“The Federal government should assure that basic standards used or met for dual use research that is based on consensus standards of the research areas. The government assures that the standards have teeth, the researcher communities evolve standards that are contextually appropriate and evolve as knowledge and conditions change.”

the issue, followed by discussion and analysis of the results, with the key results listed again at the end.

Role of Individuals

The survey asked questions about whether life scientists, acting either individually or collectively as members of a scientific or professional society, can be responsible for biosecurity (self-governance). As discussed in Chapter 1, some measures have been proposed by which scientists could reduce the risk that their research might be misused. To encourage the development of a norm and sense of shared responsibility, some propose that scientists should take an oath similar to the Hippocratic oath that physicians take at graduation (Revill and Dando 2006). One proposal is that scientists should conduct an initial and continued review of research ideas to assess whether they have dual use potential. This is the approach that the NSABB has taken in its Proposed Framework for the Oversight of Dual use Research (NSABB 2007). Another approach would be to have scientists provide assurance to their employers that they are aware of whether their work has dual use potential. Yet another possibility is that

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement