of NIH’s support of the two studies in question. When asked whether the NIH is willing to entertain the possibility that approved research will be found, at some later date, to be indefensible, Fauci would only say that, regarding the experiments in question, an impartial panel decided that they were worth doing and worth publishing. He observed that there is reasonable debate taking place about gain-of-function studies and expressed support of studies that aim to remain ahead of what is likely occurring in the natural world. He agreed that discussions about the justifiability of this type of experiment should take place before the fact and be conducted by disinterested parties.

The Moratorium on Research on Laboratory-modified H5N1. Dr. Fauci reminded the audience that the moratorium on laboratory-modified H5N1 was voluntary (though mandatory for intramural NIH research). He supported extending the moratorium until questions related to specific research programs of concern are resolved, i.e., whether there are risks, and, if so, whether the researchers have an appropriate plan for mitigating the risks.4 Dr. Millet was not as optimistic that the voluntary moratorium would hold in light of the recent NSABB recommendation for full publication of the Fouchier and Kawaoka manuscripts.

Professor Gostin concluded the session by revisiting the discussion’s central questions: Should specific research take place? If the research is conducted, should it be published? Who should decide what research is published? What partnerships are critical? What norms should prevail?

Gostin asked the audience to consider a key question in light of their own circumstances: How can we ensure that the international community moves toward a consensus based on true partnerships and a genuine understanding of common values—a consensus that prepares us to face this situation more effectively the next time it arises?


4 Researchers declared an end to the moratorium on January 23, 2013.

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