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White House Issues Policy on Institutional Oversight of “Dual Use Research of Concern”

September 26, 2014— The White House Sept. 24 released a long awaited, government-wide policy, “Institutional Oversight of Life Sciences Dual Use Research of Concern.”

The institutional oversight policy, which builds upon prior guidelines and requirements, defines dual use research of concern (DURC) as life sciences research that, based on current understanding, can be reasonably anticipated to provide knowledge, information, products, or technologies that could be directly misused to pose a significant threat with broad consequences to public health and safety, or for other national security concerns.

The policy requires institutions to have procedures in place for identifying such research through involvement of special committees or existing biomedical safety committees, identifying possible risk mitigation strategies, and for reporting concerns to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) or other funding agencies. The policy will go fully into effect within one year. 

In a statement about the new policy, NIH Director Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., noted that despite the overwhelming benefits to society produced by medical and other biological research, “the U.S. Government and the scientific community however, have recognized that in rare instances there can be the potential for the information or products generated from these technological advances to be misused… This policy aims to preserve the benefits of life science research while minimizing the risk of misuse of the products of such research.”

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Public Health Emergency page includes an online resource guide to help institutions navigate the new requirements.


Stephen Heinig
Director, Science Policy
Telephone: 202-828-0488


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Washington Highlights, a weekly electronic newsletter, features brief updates on the latest legislative and regulatory activities affecting medical schools and teaching hospitals.

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Jason Kleinman
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Telephone: 202-903-0806