The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate, in collaboration with the Association of American Universities (AAU) and Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), have hosted meetings with the biological sciences community to summarize important lessons learned, challenges faced, and areas for improvement of local and national-level biosecurity initiatives.
International Science and Security
In February 2013, AAAS, AAU, APLU, and the FBI hosted a meeting on international science and security in the life sciences, entitled International Science and Security.
The goals of the meeting were:
- To identify current challenges in addressing safety, security, and ethics while conducting or enabling biological research with foreign students, faculty, staff, or collaborating partners;
- To discuss current strategies or needs for promoting a common understanding of biosecurity risks and mitigation measures, and how they relate to safety and ethical risks and mitigation strategies of biological and biotechnological research;
- To identify strategies for enabling international scientific collaboration within the existing biological sciences and security environment; and
- To identify ways in which the research community and FBI can work together to address these challenges.
Meeting participants were asked to consider the following issues:
- Challenges that research institutions face with foreign scientists working in the U.S., international collaborations, and American scientists working in foreign institutions;
- Current practices or procedures that overcome one or more of these challenges;
- Gaps in understanding or process that need to be addressed to ensure that interactions between scientists are safe, secure, ethical, and scientifically useful and/or productive; and
- Specific action items to gather more information about what is needed to improve the current situation or to help alleviate existing problems.
Bridging Science and Security for Biological Research: A Dialogue between Universities and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (2012)
21-23 February 2012
In February 2012, AAAS, AAU, APLU, and the FBI hosted a biosecurity outreach meeting, entitled Bridging Science and Security for Biological Research: A Dialogue between Universities and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The goals of the meeting were to:
- Facilitate open communication between the security and the scientific communities about the risks biological research and how to balance the costs and benefits of mitigating those risks;
- Determine how the university and security communities can work together to address the risks of misuse of biological research, theft of biological agents, or accidental exposure, while supporting critical research progress;
- Develop and disseminate to both the security and academic communities recommendations for building a collaborative framework for policies that reflect the balance of risk and benefit while ensuring critical biological research can be pursued in the US; and
- Develop and disseminate to the scientific community and policy-makers possible solutions that could address the potential risks of biological research at the local or national level.
Bridging Science and Security for Biological Research: A Discussion about Dual Use Review and Oversight at Research Institutions (2012)
13-14 September 2012
In September 2012, AAAS, AAU, APLU, and the FBI hosted a meeting on review and oversight of dual use research, entitled Bridging Science and Security for Biological Research: A Discussion about Dual Use Review and Oversight at Research Institutions.
Meeting participants were asked to consider the following questions:
- What dual use oversight strategies have institutions voluntarily implemented?
- What challenges did institutions face when implementing dual use review and oversight programs?
- What aspects of dual use review and oversight worked well?
- What is the current state of regulatory burden on research institutions?
The goals of the meeting were to:
- Share best practices from voluntarily-implemented review and oversight programs;
- Identify and discuss lessons learned about the review, mitigation, and communication of potential using the recent H5N1 papers as a case study; and
- Inform current national-level policy debates on dual use life sciences research.
Competing Responsibilities?: Addressing the Security Risks of Biological Research in Academia (2010)
January 21 and 22, 2010
On January 21 and 22, 2010, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the Association of American Universities (AAU), and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) hosted a meeting with university leadership, scientists, representatives of the security community, and policy-makers to explore the perceptions of risk held by different communities, review current policy discussions to minimize those risks, address potential barriers and challenges academic institutions face in dealing with national security requirements, and suggest actions to improve the collaborative environment to promote research and education in the biological sciences while minimizing potential national security risks. This meeting was supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.