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Conference details dual-use research in 21st century

February 16, 2011

Extraordinary leaps in multidisciplinary research are leading to unprecedented discoveries but, in the wrong hands, unintended uses of those discoveries can threaten our world. "Dangerous Liaisons: Dual Use Research in the 21st Century" – to take place at 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., Feb. 25, in the Biodesign Institute auditorium – is an ASU-sponsored conference addressing the issues of dual-use research from the perspectives of researchers, policymakers and the FBI.

Speakers will include: Paul Keim, director of pathogen genomics for TGen and professor at Northern Arizona University; Edward You, of the Biological Countermeasures Unit at FBI; Kavita Berger, Center for Science, Technology & Security Policy, American Association for the Advancement of Science; and Bertram Jacobs, professor in ASU’s Center for Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology.

Jacobs, who organized the conference, believes a dialogue should be ongoing in this type of research. “We’re all aware that select agents are always under scrutiny but, with the technology available today, even apparently innocent research can have the potential for evil or for good.”

The National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity was established to provide advice, guidance and leadership regarding biosecurity oversight of dual use research. Keim, who also chairs the NSABB will discuss why it was formed and will focus on the development of creating a culture of responsibility and how to integrate that culture into responsible conduct of research.

“Much of the discussion on dual use research focuses on microbiology but our perspective is that biosecurity is part of a spectrum of risks that range from ethics to environmental release,” Berger said. “Our thought is that if taught as a broader concept, it might be seem more relevant to non-life scientists and be more flexible and adaptable as new technologies develop."

The conference is open to ASU faculty, staff, students and the general public. Please RSVP by Feb. 21.

Sheila Britton,
Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development
(480) 965-2494