Biological research has proceeded at an extraordinary pace over the past few decades because of remarkable technical advances. However, as technical milestones are reached, the chance of misuse of research has increased. Research that has the potential to be misused for nefarious purposes is said to be "dual-use". Simply put, the techniques needed to engineer a bioweapon are the same as those needed to pursue legitimate research.
Managing dual-use science requires the involvement of the research community. It can be argued that scientists not only have a moral obligation to prevent the misapplication of research technologies or findings, they are also in the best position to understand the potential for misuse. Also, static, bureaucratic-based oversight can quickly become both meaningless and ineffective since science will always move faster then government. It is, therefore, important that scientists take the lead in managing dual-use science.
The risk of not becoming engaged may be governmental actions that impose blanket restrictions and cumbersome rules for scientists that have little impact on real security and could slow legitimate research. This reality has become more graphic as scientists have become the targets of prosecution under new national security laws and attention has turned to what controls should be imposed on scientific research that may have dual-use implications. The purpose of this series of case studies is to raise awareness in the research community of the dangers of dual-use research and the consequences of not participating in self-governance.