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A Discussion about Dual Use Review and Oversight at Research Institutions

In September 2012, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Association of American Universities (AAU), Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) convened a meeting of scientists, research administrators, and biosecurity experts to share information about existing programs for review, oversight, and communication of dual use research.

About the Project

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate (WMDD) has developed a robust biosecurity outreach and awareness program with the scientific community. To strengthen its relationship with that community, the FBI WMD Directorate contracted with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) to host a series of outreach and policy meetings with research, policy, and security stakeholders and summarize important lessons learned, challenges faced, and areas for improvement of local and national-level biosecurity initiatives. In collaboration with the American Association of Universities (AAU) and Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), AAAS and the FBI WMD Directorate hosted a biosecurity outreach meeting in February 2012, entitled Bridging Science and Security for Biological Research: A Dialogue between Universities and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The meeting provided opportunities for academic scientists and research administrators to build trust and enhance their relationship with the security community, with the mutual goal of jointly addressing the challenges of preventing biosafety and biosecurity risks. One of the key findings was:

  • Active communication between universities and [the] FBI could help maintain the United States’ competitive advantage in research and education by helping to mitigate potential domestic and national security risks.

The second meeting, which was held in September 2012, built on this finding by providing the opportunity for scientists and administrators from small, medium, and large research institutions to share best practices and lessons learned about the review and oversight of dual use research with each other and with the security and policy-making communities. Participants described existing oversight programs that were developed to minimize the risk of dual use research with adverse potential and the challenges they faced in implementing those programs. The information shared at this meeting will have particular relevance to current policy discussions and proposed policies, guidance, and regulations that seek to address the dual use dilemma.