HHS Secretary Thompson Announces New National Science Advisory Board on Bioterrorism Research
HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson on Thursday announced the creation of the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity, a committee of experts that will set guidelines to try to prevent government-funded scientific research from producing potential weapons for bioterrorists, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (Nesmith, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 3/4). The announcement follows the release last October of a National Research Council report recommending that biotechnology scientists submit their research proposals to specially trained panels of scientists and national security experts to determine whether the study's potential benefits would outweigh any threat of bioterrorists' misusing the information (California Healthline, 10/9/03). The new board, which will be based at NIH, will initially have an annual budget of $2.8 million and a staff of 13 (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 3/4). Eventually, the board will have up to 25 members appointed by the HHS secretary and non-voting members from 15 federal agencies (Lane, Long Island Newsday, 3/5). The NSABB will advise federal departments and agencies on:
- Local and federal biosecurity oversight strategies and guideline development for all federally supported life sciences research;
- Ways to cooperate with journal editors and others in the development of publication, public presentation and public communication guidelines for potentially sensitive research;
- Creating guidelines for mandatory training in biosecurity issues; and
- Developing a code of conduct for life scientists and laboratory workers.