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David Relman
Policy Briefs

Editing Biosecurity: Needs and Strategies for Governing Genome Editing

Megan Palmer, Megan Palmer, David Relman
2018 December 5, 2018

This study’s purpose was to highlight the changing safety and security landscape engendered by the emergence of new genome editing technologies, help policy-makers and other stakeholders navigate this space, and illuminate broader trends in the life sciences that may impact the biosecurity landscape.

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Journal Articles

On Defining Global Catastrophic Biological Risks

Megan Palmer, David Relman, Bruce C. Tiu, Amy S. Weissenbach
Health Security, 2017 July 24, 2017

The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security has formulated an encompassing working definition of global catastrophic biological risks (GCBRs) that reflects diverse sources of risk and mechanisms of damage. The authors draw on their definition to highlight some important considerations for understanding and addressing GCBRs.

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Journal Articles

A More Systematic Approach to Biological Risk

Megan Palmer , David Relman, Frank Fukuyama
Science, 2015 December 18, 2015

Management of emerging risks in life science and technology requires new leadership and a sober assessment of the legacy of Asilomar.

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Journal Articles

How likely is it that biological agents will be used deliberately to cause widespread harm?

Thomas V Inglesby, David Relman
Wiley Online Library, 2015 December 18, 2015

The fact that biological weapons have never been used—at least in recent history—is not sufficient reason to dismiss concerns that terrorists or nations could acquire and use dangerous pathogens as weapons. The ongoing discussion about gain-of-function experiments should take this very real prospect more seriously.

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Journal Articles

New Game, New Rules: Limiting the Risks of Biological Engineering

David Relman, Marc Lipsitch
Foreign Affairs, 2015 September 4, 2015
In an article published by the Council on Foreign Relations' Foreign Affairs magazine, David Relman and Marc Lipsitch examine recent advances in biological engineering as well as lapses in laboratory security in the context of biosafety and biosecurity concerns. The authors argue that current oversight is ill-equipped to handle the potential risks that can result from this type of research, and call for improved oversight mechanisms that involve diverse stakeholders to better govern these fields.
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Journal Articles

Gain-of-function experiments: time for a real debate

W. Paul Duprex, Ron A. M. Fouchier, Michael J. Imperiale, Marc Lipsitch, David Relman
Nature Reviews Microbiology, 2014 December 8, 2014

According to the WHO, dual use research of concern (DURC) is “life sciences research that is intended for benefit, but which might easily be misapplied to do harm”. Recent studies, particularly those on influenza viruses, have led to renewed attention on DURC, as there is an ongoing debate over whether the benefits of gain‐of‐function (GOF) experiments that result in an increase in the transmission and/or pathogenicity of potential pandemic pathogens (PPPs) are outweighed by concerns over biosecurity and biosafety.

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Journal Articles

The Increasingly Compelling Moral Responsibilities of Life Scientists

David Relman
Hastings Center Report, 2013 March 1, 2013
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Journal Articles

The Application of Ecological Theory Toward an Understanding of the Human Microbiome

Elizabeth Costello, Keaton Stagaman, Les Dethlefsen, Brendan J.M. Bohannan, David Relman
Science, 2012 June 6, 2012
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Journal Articles

The biological century: coming to terms with risk in the life sciences

David Relman
Nature Immunology, 2010 April 1, 2010

Although the life sciences promise huge benefits, the possibility of doing harm from deliberate misuse of knowledge is an increasingly worrisome issue. Discussion and mitigation of these risks by life scientists must be encouraged.

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Journal Articles

Microbial threat lists: obstacles in the quest for biosecurity?

Arturo Casadevall, David Relman
Nature Reviews Microbiology, 2010 February 1, 2010
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