The Dual Use Dilemma in Biological Research

The SERCEB Policy, Ethics and Law Core has developed an online module to assist those involved with the biological sciences in better understanding the “dual use” dilemma inherent in such research. This module is intended for graduate and post-doctoral students, faculty members, biosafety professionals, policy makers, and laboratory technicians involved in the conduct, oversight or analysis of research in microbiology, molecular genetics, immunology, pathology, and other fields related to emerging infectious disease and biological threats to human, animal, and environmental health. The module consists of a ~30 minute online presentation followed by a brief assessment.

To start, click on the module title: The Dual Use Dilemma in Biological Research

Learning Objectives

At the end of the presentation, the user will be able to:

  1. Describe the dual use dilemma in bioscience research;
  2. Identify and analyze potential ethical, legal and policy problems which may arise in the biosciences; and
  3. Develop strategies to respond to and resolve dual use scenarios.

Discussion Guide

Follow-up questions and further case studies are available in the Discussion Guide (.pdf).

Relevant publications

Challenges and Opportunities for Education About Dual Use Issues in the Life Sciences. Committee on Education on Dual Use Issues in the Life Sciences; National Research Council. ISBN: 0-309-15841-9, 146 pages, 6 x 9, (2010)

Davidson EM, Frothingham R, Cook-Deegan R. Policy Forum: Practical Experiences in Dual-Use Review. Science v316 n5830 (8 June 2007): 1432-1433.

Kelley M. Infectious Disease Research and Dual Use Risk . Virtual Mentor v8 n4 (April 2006): 230-234.

More relevant publications on Dual Use

SERCEB researchers with questions or concerns regarding a dual use issue should contact the SERCEB Steering Committee member at their respective institution.

For comments, questions, or further information regarding this module or the SERCEB Policy, Ethics, and Law Core please contact: Nikki Vangsnes ( / 919-668-9014).

<PEL Core Home Page