The most promising techniques emerging from genomics and bioinformatics are the same ones that can be directed at producing novel or more effective biological weapons. Whereas the preceding regulatory and institutional controls serve to address the most basic security and biosafety issues, the rapid pace of technological advances requires that scientists accept responsibility for biosecurity as part of doing science.
The case studies accompanying this introductory module illustrate the role that scientists assume when conducting dual-use research. While the research described in these cases was or could be considered contentious in light of public concerns over bioterrorism and the threat of engineered biological agents, the science involved is well within the spectrum of what goes on in many labs every day. Each of these cases and many others like them raise fundamental questions about how such research should be guided and what questions researchers need to pose to themselves and their institutions.