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What is Dual Use Research of Concern?

Dual Use Research of Concern (DURC) is defined as:

Life sciences research that, based on current understanding, can be reasonably anticipated to provide knowledge, information, products or technology 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 National Institute of Health (NIH) has produced a short informational video about when dual use research of concern might occur and the importance of the identification and mitigation of the risks involved with such research.

DURC Oversight

In March 2012, the United States Government released a policy regarding the oversight of federally funded or conducted research pertaining to certain pathogens and toxins that it deemed to be of “high-consequence” and having “the greatest risk of deliberate misuse with the most significant potential for mass casualties or devastating effects to the economy, critical infrastructure, or public confidence”.  This policy includes:

  • A list of these pathogens and toxins as well as specific outcomes of research that the US Government has determined to be of particular concern
  • A general protocol for the oversight of DURC projects, including
    • The review of all federally funded DURC projects, whether the funding is current or proposed
    • The potential incorporation of a risk mitigation plan to the grant, contract, or agreement of such a project, whether the funding is current or proposed
    • The content that a risk mitigation plan may include.

National Security Advisory Board for Biosecurity

The National Security Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) is a federal advisory committee with the primary purpose of guiding the oversight of dual use research of concern.  The NSABB does not become involved on the individual project level; it is primarily focused on general oversight policy. 

For more information on the NSABB, follow the links below: