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Dual Use Research of Concern (DURC)

The USG Policy for Institutional Oversite of Life Sciences Dual Use Research of Concern (October 2015 Policy for Institutional DURC Oversite) and the USG POLICY for Oversight of Life Sciences Dual Use Research of Concern (March 2012 DURC Policy) apply to the oversight of life sciences DURC that is either funded by the U.S. Government (USG) or taking place at institutions receiving funding from the USG for life sciences research.

  • The March 2012 DURC policy sets forth a process of regular Federal review of USG-funded or USG-conducted research and requires Federal agencies that fund or sponsor life sciences research to identify DURC and evaluate this research for possible risks, as well as benefits, and to ensure that risks are appropriately managed and benefits realized.
  • The Policy for Institutional DURC Oversight complements the March 2012 DURC Policy by establishing review procedures and oversight requirements for the same scope of research at the institutions that receive Federal funds for life sciences research.  

Definition: What is DURC?

The National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) has defined Dual Use Research of Concern (DURC) as: “research that, based on current understanding, can be reasonably anticipated to provide knowledge, products, or technologies that could be directly misapplied by others to pose a threat to public health and safety, agricultural crops and other plants, animals, the environment or materiel”.

All investigators are strongly recommended to visit the National Institutes of Health site for a better understanding the issues.

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

The NSABB is a Federal advisory committee chartered to provide advice, guidance, and leadership regarding biosecurity oversight of dual use research to all Federal departments and agencies with an interest in life sciences research. 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.