Federation of American Scientists Module 1.0: Introduction
Topic: Case Studies Subtopic: Case Studies in Dual Use Research

Era of Bioterrorism Image
Illustrating the challenge and ethical complexities of
conducting biological research in an
“Era of Bioterrorism”

The case studies presented here illustrate the real-life dilemmas faced by actual research scientists in the post-9/11 era where national security imperatives compete with academic research freedoms. The first three include the poliovirus synthesis experiments conducted in Eckard Wimmer's laboratory at the State University of New York at Stony Brook; the porous particle development work of David Edwards at Harvard University; and the mousepox experiments conducted by two Australian researchers, Ron Jackson and Ian Ramshaw.

We include in-depth interviews with the researchers to document their personal experiences and present the details of their experiments, the implications for biosecurity, and the aftermath of publication. We also include commentary and analysis, accounts of the public reaction, and a discussion of scientist’s roles and responsibilities. The ultimate purpose of the case studies is to vividly illustrate the challenge and ethical complexities of conducting biology research in “an era of bioterrorism,” and to illustrate how government, the public, the scientific community, and law enforcement have interacted in the past and need to cooperate in the future.


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