Core Services














Policy, Ethics and Law Core (PEL)

(Funding for this core ended March 1, 2010.)

Former Core Leader: Robert Cook-Deegan

Duke University


Research, clinical care, and public health interventions related to emerging infections and biodefense raise critically important ethical, legal, and social issues. The PEL Core functioned under the direction of a multi-disciplinary Advisory Committee. Committee members consulted with researchers, clinicians, public health and government officials, experts in biosecurity and health policy, epidemiologists, bioethicists, and the senior scientists serving as SERCEB investigators.

Previous Initiatives

The Dual Use Dilemma in Biological Research

An educational module on dual use issues for bioscientists.

Public Health Ethics in a Pandemic

Confronting ethical dilemmas for the public's health in the event of a infectious disease crisis.

Bioethics & Biodefense

Unique ethical questions that arise in the conduct of scientific research undertaken for biodefense objectives.

Balancing Biosecurity 
Analyzing how contemporary bioscience research, public health, and national security communities relate in the post-2001 environment.

Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC)
Historical, current, and potential future implications of the BWC for biodefense and emerging infectious disease research.

Institutional Biosafety Committees (IBCs)  

The role of and resources for IBC members in reviewing research with dual-use potential

Intellectual Property

Ensuring access to health products for resource-poor countries.  

Human Subjects Research Oversight

Review mechanisms for research responding to an imminent threat or rapidly emerging infectious disease.

Emergency Response Planning

The interface between state and local public health institutions, recently enacted state and federal emergency response legislation, and the basic science research community.

Ethical Use of Animals in Biodefense Research

Unique questions that arise when utilizing animal subjects for such research, previous related experiences, and utilizing such information when proposing future studies with animal subjects. 

Social Moral Epistemology

Considering social and cultural relationships in reducing the risks of research misuse and laboratory accidents while maintaining openness and transparency.

Former PEL Advisory Committee