The National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) on Jan. 27 voted to approve, with minor modifications, a report containing a new framework for the oversight of biosecurity.
The NSABB, a federal advisory committee to the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services and the director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), issued the report in response to a charge from the NIH last year to conduct a review of the scope and effectiveness of policies for research with enhanced pandemic pathogens as well as dual use research of concern.
As the report notes, while there is an existing system of oversight for life sciences research, “periodic reassessment of our biosafety and biosecurity oversight frameworks helps to ensure that they effectively address existing and emerging safety and security concerns while continuing to support scientific progress and innovation.”
The report includes thirteen recommendations which are intended to harmonize and streamline definitions, policies, and processes; ensure that agencies, institutions, and investigators have clearly defined roles and responsibilities in evaluating potential risks of research projects; increase transparency and information sharing; and develop an integrated approach to biosecurity oversight.
The report itself is not a policy change and does not create or modify requirements for institutions and researchers. Currently performing the duties of NIH director, Larry Tabak, DDS, PhD, stated that the report will be considered as part of the government’s review process for biosecurity research.