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Dual Use Research of Concern (DURC)

Dual Use Research of Concern (DURC) is life sciences research that, based on current understanding, can be reasonably anticipated to provide knowledge, information, products, or technologies that could be directly misapplied to pose a significant threat with broad potential consequences to public health and safety, agricultural crops and other plants, animals, the environment, materiel, or national security. The United States Government’s oversight of DURC is aimed at preserving the benefits of life sciences research while minimizing the risk of misuse of the knowledge, information, products, or technologies provided by such research.

The NIH Office of Science Policy DURC Website contains links to the US Government DURC Policies.  

What is the NSABB? What is the role of the NSABB?

The NSABB is a federal advisory committee that addresses issues related to biosecurity and dual use research at the request of the United States Government. The NSABB advises on and recommends specific strategies for the efficient and effective oversight of federally conducted or supported dual use biological research, taking into consideration national security concerns and the needs of the research community.

Case Studies in Dual Use Research

Biosecurity and the Culture of Responsibility

As discussed previously, the major concern with DURC is its potential use for nefarious purposes. Therefore, in addition to basic biosafety concerns that are associated with any research involving use of pathogenic agents, DURC raises issues of biosecurity. In its report titled “Guidance for Enhancing Personnel Reliability and Strengthening the Culture of Responsibility,” the NSABB provides the following:

What is the “culture of responsibility” in the context of biosecurity?

Bearing in mind the fact that scientific knowledge can be used for positive as well as for negative purposes, all scientists—especially those working in the life sciences—must cultivate among themselves a culture of responsibility with regard to the conduct and the results of their research. The goal remains the generation and advancement of knowledge, but in some cases, such knowledge may be applied for harmful purposes. Scientists’ beliefs, attitudes, and values must reflect a heightened awareness of the implications of their research, especially of any potential for the deliberate misuse of the information, products, and technologies generated from that research. They must consciously demonstrate their commitment to preventing their work from being used for nefarious purposes through the day-to-day practice of mindful research.

The WVU RESPONSIBLE CONDUCT OF RESEARCH Program provides instruction in responsible conduct of research to students and faculty in the sciences and engineering. 

Please contact Biosafety Office at with any questions or concerns you have related to your research and DURC.