Oversight committee approves publication of controversial H5N1 avian flu research

The National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB), an independent advisory committee tasked with providing guidance on the biosecurity oversight of dual use research, announced on March 30 that it would recommend the publication of controversial research on the H5N1 avian flu. The issue ignited a debate in the scientific community on publishing research that could threaten public health. The committee sent its recommendations to the federal government for review. 

On March 12, Professor Paul Keim, chairman of the NSABB, and Dr. David Relman, a NSABB board member and CISAC affiliated faculty and professor of infectious diseases and microbiology and immunology at Stanford, discussed the debate over whether to make public scientific papers about the adaptation of the avian flu virus H5N1 to transmission in a mammal. The NSABB had not announced its decision to publish the research at the time of the presentation.

Audio from the March 12 seminar is available online.