White House suspends enhanced pathogen research

Nature Newsblog - Fri, 2014-10-17 18:52

Past research has made the H5N1 virus transmissible in ferrets.

Sara Reardon

As the US public frets about the recent transmission of Ebola to two Texas healthcare workers, the US government has turned an eye on dangerous viruses that could become far more widespread if they escaped from the lab. On 17 October, the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) announced a mandatory moratorium on research aimed at making pathogens more deadly, known as gain-of-function research.

Under the moratorium, government agencies will not fund research that attempts to make natural pathogens more transmissible through the air or more deadly in the body. Researchers who have already been funded to do such projects are asked to voluntarily pause work while two non-regulatory bodies, the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) and the National Research Council, assess its risks. The ban specifically mentions research that would enhance influenza, SARS and MERS. Other types of research on naturally occurring strains of these viruses would still be funded.

This is the second time that gain-of-function research has been suspended. In 2012, 39 scientists working on influenza agreed to a voluntary moratorium after the publication of two papers demonstrating that an enhanced H5N1 influenza virus could be transmitted between mammals through respiratory droplets. The publications drew a storm of controversy centered around the danger that they might give terrorists the ability to create highly effective bioweapons, or that the viruses might accidentally escape the lab. Research resumed after regulatory agencies and entities such as the World Health Organization laid out guidelines for ensuring the safety and security of flu research.

The OSTP’s moratorium, by contrast, is mandatory and affects a far broader array of viruses. “I think it’s really excellent news,” says Marc Lipsitch of Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who has long called for more oversight of risky research. “I think it’s common sense to deliberate before you act.”

Virologist Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin Madison, who conducted one of the controversial H5N1 gain-of-function studies in an effort to determine how the flu virus could evolve to become more deadly in mammals, says he plans to “comply with the government’s directives” on those experiments that are considered gain-of-function under OSTP’s order. “I hope that the issues can be discussed openly and constructively so that important research will not be delayed indefinitely,” he says.

The NSABB, which has not met since 2012, was called back into action in July, apparently in response to a set of lab accidents at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in which lab workers were exposed to anthrax and inadvertently shipped H5N1 virus without proper safety precautions. The NSABB will spend most of its next meeting on 22 October discussing gain-of-function research, and the NRC plans to hold a workshop on a date that has not yet been set. Lipsitch, who will speak at the NSABB meeting, says he plans to advocate the use of an objective risk-assessment tool to weigh the potential benefits of each research project against the probability of a lab accident and the pathogen’s contagiousness; and consider whether the knowledge gained by studying a risky pathogen could be gained in a safer way.

Categories: General, News

Amphibians being wiped out by emerging viruses

Biology News - Thu, 2014-10-16 18:21

Scientists tracing the real-time impact of viruses in the wild have found that entire amphibian communities are being killed off by closely related viruses introduced to mountainous areas of northern Spain.

Categories: Biology News, General

Researchers reach 'paradigm shift' in understanding potassium channels

Biology News - Thu, 2014-10-16 18:21

A new discovery relating to one of the most common processes in human cells is being described as a 'paradigm shift' in understanding.

Categories: Biology News, General

Scientists find 'hidden brain signatures' of consciousness in vegetative state patients

Biology News - Thu, 2014-10-16 18:21

Scientists in Cambridge have found hidden signatures in the brains of people in a vegetative state, which point to networks that could support consciousness even when a patient appears to be unconscious and unresponsive. The study could help doctors identify patients who are aware despite being unable to communicate.

Categories: Biology News, General

Academia and industry: Companies on campus

Nature - Wed, 2014-10-15 13:45

Academia and industry: Companies on campus

Nature 514, 7522 (2014). doi:10.1038/514297a

Authors: Jana J. Watson-Capps & Thomas R. Cech

Housing industry labs in academic settings benefits all parties, say Jana J. Watson-Capps and Thomas R. Cech.

Categories: General, Nature

New book list, October 8, 2014

Ernst Mayr Library Blog - Thu, 2014-10-09 13:24

Aggression in humans and other primates: biology, psychology, sociology.
Edited by Hans-Henning Kortüm & Jürgen Heinze. Berlin; Boston: De Gruyter, [2013]. HOLLIS# 014173649
BF575.A3 A5237 2013

Amphibian conservation: global evidence for the effects of interventions.
By Rebecca K. Smith and William J. Sutherland. Exeter: Pelagic Publishing, [2014]. HOLLIS# 014173581
QL644.7.S65 2014

Bee time: lessons from the hive.
By Mark L. Winston. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2014. HOLLIS# 014020511
SF523.3.W547 2014

Between land and sea: the Atlantic Coast and the transformation of New England.
By Christopher L. Pastore. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2014. HOLLIS# 014020516
GB459.4.P37 2014

Biota rossiĭskikh vod ͡IAponskogo mor͡ia (Biota of the Russian waters of the Sea of Japan). Volumes 1-9.
Glavnyĭ redaktor serii, V.L. Kasʹ͡ianov. Vladivostok: Dalʹnauka, 2004-. HOLLIS# 013416629
QH95.24.B56 2004

Cerambycidae sul-americanos (Coleoptera): taxonomia: subfamília Cerambycinae. Vol. 5: Cerambycini-Subtribo Sphallotrichina subtrib. nov., Callidiopini Lacordaire, 1869, Graciliini Mulsant, 1839, Neocorini trib. nov. Vol. 13: Subfamília Lamiinae, Hemilophini Thomson, 1868, parte I. Suplemento 3.
Ubirajara R. Martins, organizador. São Paulo: Sociedade Brasileira de Entomologia, 1997-. HOLLIS# 012107944
QL596.C4C47 1997 v. 5, 13 (pt. 1)

Catalogue of the living bivalvia of the continental coast of the Sea of Japan (East Sea) = Katalog sovremennykh dvustvorchatykh molli͡uskov kontinentalʹnogo poberezhʹi͡a I͡Aponskogo mori͡a.
By K.A. Lutaenko and R.G. Noseworthy. Vladivostok: Dalʹnauka, 2012. HOLLIS# 014202897
QL430.6.L88 2012

Crabs and shrimps of the Pacific Coast: a guide to shallow-water decapods from southeastern Alaska to the Mexican border.
By Gregory C. Jensen, Ph.D. 2nd edition. Bremerton (3808 Sundown Dr.), Washington: MolaMarine, ©2014. HOLLIS# 014203678
QL444.M33 J46 2014

Deepwater megabenthos of south-western Australia.
Edited by F.R. McEnnulty. Perth, W.A.: Western Australian Museum, 2011. HOLLIS# 014203554
QH95.55.A8D34 2011

Diversity, prevalence, and host specificity of avian Plasmodium and Haemoproteus in a Western Amazon assemblage.
By Maria Svensson-Coelho, John G. Blake, Bette A. Loiselle, Amanda S. Penrose, Patricia G. Parker, and Robert E. Ricklefs. Washington, D.C.: American Ornithologists’ Union, 2013. HOLLIS# 014174436
QL696.P2 S84 2013

Dolphin confidential: confessions of a field biologist.
By Maddalena Bearzi. Chicago; London: The University of Chicago Press, 2012, ©2012. HOLLIS# 013165175
QL737.C432 B43 2012 [e-book]

Ecogeographic patterns of morphological variation in Elepaios (Chasiempis Spp): Bergmann’s, Allen’s, and Gloger’s rules in a microcosm.
By Eric A. Vanderwerf. Washington, D.C.: American Ornithologists’ Union, c2012. HOLLIS# 014174410
QL696.P255 V36 2012

Evolutionary dynamics of mammalian karyotypes.
Editors, Roscoe Stanyon, Alexander Graphodatsky. Basel; New York: Karger, 2012. HOLLIS# 014173617
QH390.E983 2012

An evolutionary perspective on germ cell specification genes in insects.
A dissertation presented by Benjamin Ewen-Campen. Thesis, Ph.D., Harvard University, 2014. HOLLIS# 014101226
QH607.E83 2014

Frogs: genetic diversity, neural development, and ecological implications.
Henry Lambert, editor. New York: Nova Publishers, [2014]. HOLLIS# 014122144
QL668.E2 F7747 2014

The influence of anthropogenic noise on birds and bird studies.
Edited by Clinton D. Francis and Jessica L. Blickley. Washington, D.C. : American Ornithologists’ Union, 2012. HOLLIS# 014174421
QL698.95.F73 2012

Linking bacterial symbiont physiology to the ecology of hydrothermal vent symbioses.
By Roxane Beinart. Thesis, Ph.D., Harvard University, 2014. HOLLIS# 013966038
QH548.B34 2013

Microbiology of the avian egg.
Edited by R.G. Board and R. Fuller. 1st ed. London; New York: Chapman & Hall, 1994. HOLLIS# 013599679
QR116.M53 1994

Mosquito eradication: the story of killing “Campto”.
Editors, Brian H. Kay and Richard C. Russell. Collingwood, VIC: CSIRO Publishing, [2013]. HOLLIS# 014173623
RC116.M66 2013

A natural history of Australian bats: working the night shift.
By Greg Richards and Les Hall; principal photographer, Steve Parish. Collingwood, Vic.: CSIRO Pub., ©2012. HOLLIS# 014173628
QL737.C5R478 2012eb [e-book]

Ninth International workshop on Agglutinated Foraminifera, Zaragoza, Spain, September 3-7, 2012: Abstract volume.
Edited by L. Alegret, S. Ortiz and M. A. Kaminski. London: The Grzybowski Foundation, 2012. HOLLIS# 014199577
QE772.I57 2012

North American amphibians: distribution and diversity.
By David M. Green, Linda A. Weir, Gary S. Casper, and Michael J. Lannoo. Berkeley: University of California Press, [2014]. HOLLIS# 014019981
QL651.G74 2014

A photographic guide to some common birds of Aravallis.
By Shriyans Bhandari. Rajasthan: Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation Ltd., [2013]. HOLLIS# 014169384
QL691.I4 B53 2013

Planting for wildlife: a practical guide to restoring native forests.

Nicola Munro and David Lindenmayer. Collingwood, Vic.: CSIRO Publishing, 2011. HOLLIS# 014173633
SD409.M86 2011eb [e-book]

Predictors of juvenile survival in birds.
By Terri J. Maness and David J. Anderson. Washington, D.C.: American Ornithologists’ Union, 2013. HOLLIS# 014174443
QL698.2.M25 2013

Regenerat͡sii͡a u goloturiĭ. [Regeneration in holothurians].
[By] I. I͡U. Dolmatov, V.S. Mashanov. Vladivostok: Dalʹnauka, 2007. HOLLIS# 014202898
QL384.H7D65 2007

Report of the seventh session of the sub-committee on aquaculture: St Petersburg, Russian Federation, 7-11 October 2013.
Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, [2014]. HOLLIS# 014202550
SH3.F66 2013

A sparrowhawk’s lament: how British breeding birds of prey are faring.
By David Cobham; with illustrations by Bruce Pearson. Princeton, New Jersey; Woodstock, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom: Princeton University Press, [2014]. HOLLIS# 014173635
QL696.F3 C63 2014

Vyrashchivanie lichinok donnykh morskikh bespozvonochnykh v laboratornykh uslovii͡akh :prakticheskie rekomendat͡sii. [Rearing of benthic marine invertebrates under laboratory conditions :practical recommendations].
[By] S.D. Kashenko. Vladivostok: Dalʹnauka, 2010. HOLLIS# 014196398
QL362.8.K37 2010

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