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Committee on Assessing Fundamental Attitudes of Life Scientists as a Basis for Biosecurity Education Development, Security and Cooperation Policy and Global Affairs Board on Life Sciences Division on Earth and Life Studies In collaboration with
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20001 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Gov- erning Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engi- neering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This project was supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and funds provided by the Presidentsâ Circle Communications Initiative. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project. International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-12510-9 International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-12510-3 Library of Congress Control Number: 2009925225 Additional copies of this report are available from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, N.W., Lockbox 285, Washington, D.C. 20055; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area); Internet, http://www.nap. edu Suggested citation: National Research Council. 2009. A Survey of Attitudes and Actions on Dual Use Research in the Life Sciences: A Collaborative Effort of the National Research Council and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press. Copyright 2009 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America
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Committee on Assessing Fundamental Attitudes of Life Scientists as a Basis for Biosecurity Education Ronald M. Atlas, Ph.D., (Chair), Professor of Biology and Public Health, and Co-director of the Center for Health Hazards Preparedness, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY Robert Cook-Deegan, M.D., Director of the Institute for Genome Sciences, and Policy Center for Genome Ethics, Law & Policy, Duke University, Durham, NC David Franz, D.V.M., Ph.D., Chief Biological Scientist, Midwest Research Institute, Frederick, MD James Lepkowski, Ph.D., Research Professor, Institute for Social Research; Professor, Department of Biostatistics; University of Michigan, Ann Arbor Francis Macrina, Ph.D., Edward Myers Professor of Dentistry and Vice President for Research, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA Kathleen Vogel, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Science and Technology Studies and the Peace Studies Program, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY Staff Kavita Marfatia Berger, Ph.D., Project Director, Center for Science, Technology, and Security Policy, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Consultant Kerry Brenner, Ph.D., Senior Program Officer, Board on Life Sciences Jo L. Husbands, Ph.D., Senior Project Director, Program on Development, Security and Cooperation Fran Sharples, Ph.D., Director, Board on Life Sciences John Sislin, Ph.D., Study Director Rae Allen, Administrative Assistant
Preface and Acknowledgments To begin to assess the attitudes of members of the life sciences com- munity and to learn what actions life scientists in the United States would support to reduce the risk of misuse of the results of scientific research, the National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academies and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) conducted a survey of life scientist members of AAAS to assess their awareness of the dual use dilemma, including their perceived risks of bioterrorism, and their attitudes toward their responsibilities to help reduce the risks that their research could be misused. NRC appointed a committee to provide oversight for the Academiesâ participation in the project. The committee was not formally appointed until after the stages of the project that developed the survey instrument and survey design and decided whom to survey. The committee did pro- vide oversight for the analysis of the survey results and the preparation of the final report. The committee is fully responsible for the interpretation of the data. Funding for the project came from several sources. A generous grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation provided the primary source of fund- ing. In addition, the initial development of the project was supported by a planning grant from The Carnegie Corporation of New York, while the Presidents Circle Communications Initiative of the National Academies supported the focus groups. Fielding of the survey was supported by the AAAS Center for Science, Technology and Security Policy and funds from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. vii
viii PREFACE AND ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The results of the survey provide some of the first empirical data about the awareness and attitudes of a sample of U.S. life scientists toward biosecurity and the potential misuse of legitimate scientific research for malicious purposes, that is, their awareness of and attitudes toward the so-called dual use dilemma. Unfortunately, a low response rate and uncertainties about whether the respondents are representative of the broader U.S. life sciences community limit the ability to generalize from the responses that were obtained from the survey. Nevertheless, the find- ings are valuable in generating hypotheses that can be tested in future efforts. There appears to be support among life scientists for self-regula- tory approaches to reducing the risk of misuse of scientific knowledge. In fact the survey results suggest that concerns about dual use research have led some scientists to change their research activities. This may be an indication that the life sciences community is responsibly responding to reduce the risk of misuse of science. But it is also possible that some scientists are overreacting to the perceived threat, for example, by break- ing collaborations and excluding foreigners from their laboratories. The committee feels that it is important to investigate further what changes are being made in the conduct of research by U.S. researchers in response to dual use concerns and how this may be impacting the conduct of research in the life sciences. As recognized in previous NRC reports, notably Biotechnology Research in an Age of Terrorism, the committee feels that it is important for all involved to recognize that protection of the life sciences against misuse requires a global effort. This survey was a first step to learn about the level of awareness of dual use research within the life science community in the United States and the policy measures that would be supported by that community. Future efforts will need to assess the prospect of the international life science community accepting various policy proposals aimed at reducing the risks of misuse of legitimate life science research. The committee hopes that its work will help further the essential dialogue and empower the voices of the life sciences community to be heard. This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the National Academiesâ Report Review Com- mittee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institu- tional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report: Gerald Epstein, Center for Strategic and International Studies;
PREFACE AND ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ix Rachel Levinson, Arizona State University; Filippa Lentzos, London School of Economics; Nancy Mathiowetz, University of Wisconsin; Henry Metzger, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Dis- eases; Stephen Morse, Columbia University; Victoria Sutton, Texas Tech University; and Judy Tanur, The State University of New York. Although the reviewers listed above have provided many construc- tive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the con- clusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Edward Perrin, University of Washington, and Mary Clutter (Retired), National Science Foundation. Appointed by the National Academies, they were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution. The committee wants to thank the members of the NRC and AAAS staff who provided extensive input during the project. The design and development of the project was a group effort among the staff from sev- eral parts of the NRC and AAAS. John Sislin served as study director, provided the data and statistical analyses that were the core of this study, as well as drafting the methods and findings chapters. Jo Husbands and Kavita Berger also made substantial contributions to the many drafts of the report. Fran Sharples and Kerry Brenner provided insightful comments that helped guide the committee in its work. We also want to extend our thanks to Connie Citro and Michael Cohen from the NRC Committee on National Statistics for providing additional statistical advice. Finally, the committee wishes to acknowledge the work of the staff at AAAS who were involved in fielding the survey that provided the data for the com- mittee to analyze. The committee is especially grateful to those who participated in the focus groups that helped formulate the survey questionnaire and the many scientists who took the time to complete the survey. Although fill- ing out surveys is tedious and often unrewarding, the committee hopes that the completion of this report will be valuable to the life sciences community and policy makers who are trying to advance the responsible conduct of science and ensure that knowledge in the life sciences is not misused to do harm. Ronald M. Atlas, Chair
Contents Summary 1 Overview 11 Introduction, 11 Efforts to Enhance Biosecurity, 16 Spectrum of Approaches to Manage Risks of Dual Use Research, 30 Life Scientistsâ Attitudes and Awareness of Dual Use Issues, 36 The AAAS-NRC Project, 40 2 Approach 43 Research Objectives, 43 Study Design, 44 Potential Sources of Error, 52 Data Analysis, 55 Characteristics of Respondents, 56 Concluding Remarks, 60 3 Results of the Survey 63 Respondentsâ Research Experience, 64 Scientistsâ Views on Bioterrorism, 72 Changes in Behavior in Response to Dual Use Concerns, 82 xi
xii CONTENTS Responsibility for Oversight, 89 Policy, 108 Concluding Remarks, 113 4 Conclusions and Recommendations 115 Introduction, 115 Perceptions of Risk, 116 Actions Taken by Life Scientists in Response to Dual Use Concerns, 117 Oversight Mechanisms, 117 Education and Outreach, 120 Recommendations, 121 Bibliography 123 Appendixes A Committee Member Biographies 135 B Focus Group Results 139 C Final Questionnaire 155 D Additional Data and Analysis 165
List of Tables, Figures, and Boxes TABLES S-1 Summary of Results Regarding Support for Measures of Personal and Institutional Responsibility, 7 2-1 Comparison of AAAS Life Scientists in the Survey Population, the Sampling Frame, and Those Sampled, by Scientific Field, 50 2-2 Response Rate Calculator, 52 2-3 Respondentsâ Current Role in Scientific Research, 57 2-4 Employment Status of Respondents, 57 2-5 Employment Sector of Respondents, 58 2-6 Scientific Field of Respondents, 59 2-7 Highest Awarded Degree of Respondents, 59 2-8 Citizenship of Respondents, 60 3-1 Number of Respondents Who Consider Their Research Dual Use, to Involve One of the Seven Categories of Experiments, or to Involve Select Agents, 67 3-2 Percentage of Respondents Working on Each Type of Research, 69 3-3 Percentage of Respondents Whose Current Research Was Dual Use and Was One of Seven Categories of Experiments, 69 3-4 Number and Percentage of Respondents Whose Research Involves Dual Use, Seven Categories, or Select Agents, by Employment Sector, 70 xiii
xiv LIST OF TABLES, FIGURES, AND BOXES 3-5 Percentage of Respondents Who Made a Change to Their Research on the Basis of Type of Research and Employment Type, 84 3-6 Types of Changes Scientists Made Because of Concerns That Knowledge, Tools, or Techniques from Their Research Might Be Deliberately Misused to Facilitate Bioterrorism, 86 3-7 Correlations Between Changes Scientists Made, 87 3-8 Number of Changes Individual Scientists Made, 88 3-9 Correlation Between Variables Relating to Respondentsâ Views on Individual Responsibility, 92 3-10 Professional Societies Most Frequently Cited as Having Codes of Conduct, 98 3-11 Correlation Between Respondentsâ Views on the Role of Specific Institutions and of Other Organizationsâ Responsibility, 104 3-12 Correlation Between Respondentsâ Views Regarding Greater Federal Oversight and Other Actorsâ Responsibility, 107 3-13 Average Rating, on a Scale of 1 to 5, of Respondentsâ Agreement with Statement That Greater Federal Oversight Is Needed, by Type of Research and Employment, 108 3-14 Average Rating, on a Scale of 1 to 5, of Respondentsâ Agreement with Statement That a Particular Policy Is Needed, by Type of Policy and Respondent, 111 3-15 Correlation Between Respondentsâ Views on Policy Options and Their Views About the Role of Different Types of Information in Allowing Individuals to Create Dangerous Biological Agents, 112 4-1 Summary of Results Regarding Support for Measures of Personal and Institutional Responsibility, 119 D-1 List of survey questions and number of responses for each question, 165 D-2 Percentage likelihood of dual use research facilitating a bioterror attack, by type of research in which respondents are engaged, 168 D-3 Percentage of respondents agreeing or disagreeing with statement that greater federal oversight is needed, by type of research and employment, 169 D-4 Percentage of respondents agreeing or disagreeing that particular policies should be required, by policy, type of research, and employment, 169
LIST OF TABLES, FIGURES, AND BOXES xv FIGURES 2-1 Years since highest degree was awarded, 60 3-1 Frequency distribution for percentage chance of bioterror attack somewhere in the world, 74 3-2 Frequency distribution for percentage chance of bioterror attack in the United States, 75 3-3 Frequency distribution for percentage chance of dual use life sciences research facilitating a bioterror attack, 75 3-4 Reasons why there have been few acts of bioterrorism, 77 3-5 Respondentsâ views on whether sources of information could provide sufficient information for an individual with college- level life science training to deliberately create a harmful biological agent, 80 3-6 Respondentsâ views on individual responsibility, 92 3-7 Respondentsâ views on whether journals require reviewers to evaluate, and authors to disclose, whether manuscripts include knowledge, tools, and techniques with dual use potential, 95 3-8 Support for education or training and review of grants by institutions, 100 3-9 Respondentsâ views on whether funding agencies should require grantees to attest on grant applications that they have considered dual use implications of their proposed research, 102 3-10 Respondentsâ views on whether funding agencies would be less likely to fund grant proposals if the proposed research has dual use potential, 103 3-11 Respondentsâ views regarding whether dual use research needs greater federal oversight, 106 3-12 Respondentsâ views on steps that should be taken to prevent the potential that knowledge, tools, or techniques from dual use research could pose a threat to national security, 109 BOXES 1-1 Statement of Principles by Journal Editors and Authors Group, 18 1-2 Key Recommendations: Biotechnology Research in an Age of Terrorism, 21 1-3 NSABB Criteria for Dual Use Research of Concern, 24 3-1 Illustrative Respondent Comments on Why There Have Been Few Acts of Bioterrorism, 79
xvi LIST OF TABLES, FIGURES, AND BOXES 3-2 Illustrative Respondent Comments About Personal Communication and Scientific Journals Providing Information, 80 3-3 Illustrative Respondent Comments About Foreign Scientists, 88 3-4 Illustrative Respondent Comments About Responsibility for Oversight of Research, 90 3-5 Illustrative Respondent Comments About the Role of Individuals, 91 3-6 Respondent Comments Illustrating Range of Views on Individual Responsibility, 93 3-7 Illustrative Respondent Comments on Journal Policies on Review of Dual Use Research, 96 3-8 Illustrative Respondent Comments on Education and Training, 101 3-9 Illustrative Respondent Comments on Review of Grant Applications, 103 3-10 Illustrative Respondent Comments on Federal Oversight, 106 3-11 Illustrative Respondent Comments on Policy Measures, 110