which to locate the Forum discussions and possible frameworks within which to consider dual use life sciences issues.

Drs. Coupland and Cosivi focused on public health approaches to the potential risks posed by the misuse of products of life sciences and biotechnology, particularly infectious microorganisms. Both the ICRC and the WHO have focused their efforts on analyzing risk factors, effects, and preventive measures. The ICRC has developed the concept of a “web of prevention,” in which complementary and interacting efforts from multiple stakeholders combine to offer protection from an outbreak of disease. The presentation drew an analogy to the multiple layers of protection that help prevent or reduce injuries from fires, including smoke alarms, flame-retardant materials, sprinkler systems, and dedicated fire departments. The talk also highlighted the role of the scientific community in fostering a safety and security culture and in raising awareness among scientists of potential risks related to the development, production, and delivery of microbial agents.

Ottorino Cosivi provided Forum participants with a complementary framework used by the WHO in considering global health security. This consisted of a series of interlocking puzzle pieces representing contributions from the areas of ethics, policy, collaborations and support, and laboratory safety and security, which together combined to form the norms, standards, and supporting activities to help manage health security risks. Risk management in this public health context could also be viewed as a matrix in which diverse actors on individual to international levels (including scientific associations, public health laboratories, publishers, funding partners, security communities, and the public) each undertake a range of activities to address components of this puzzle.

As an intergovernmental body, WHO has focused many of its efforts on assisting member countries by working to develop risk assessment methodologies and to produce a tool kit of resources with multiple risk management options. WHO has formed a scientific working group on life science research and global health security that recommended five areas for action: education and training, disease outbreak preparedness, risk assessment methodology development, stakeholder engagement, and capacity building.1 WHO held a regional workshop in Thailand in December 2007 that recommended further actions by both WHO and its member countries in many of these areas. 2


WHO (World Health Organization). 2007. Scientific Working Group on Life Science Research and Global Health Security: Report of the First Meeting. Geneva: WHO. WHO/CDS/EPR/2007.4 Available at: http://www.who.int/csr/resources/publications/deliberate/WHO_CDS_EPR_2007_4.


Research Policy and Management of Risks in Life Science Research for Global Health Security, Bangkok, Thailand, December 10-12, 2007.

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