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U.S. Pauses Gain-of-Function Research

The U.S. government has decided to pause funding for any new studies that include certain gain-of-function experiments involving select viruses while it undertakes a review process of the potential risks and benefits of such studies. The funding pause applies to “gain-of-function research projects that may be reasonably anticipated to confer attributes to influenza, MERS, or SARS viruses such that the virus would have enhanced pathogenicity and/or transmissibility in mammals via the respiratory route.”  The review process will include both the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity, which will meet on October 22 on this topic, and the National Research Council of the National Academies, which will be asked to convene a series of scientific symposia.  While the federal funding pause is in effect, the government is also encouraging researchers involved in these sorts of studies to voluntarily pause their research, whether federally- funded or not.