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Policy-Makers and Academics Debate How to Protect Chemistry and Biology from Deadly Misuse

11 October 13


Bradford Disarmament Research Centre (BDRC), University of Bradford is holding a conference on October 14 and 15 concentrating on the misuse of civil research in chemistry and biology.

Bradford Disarmament Research Centre (BDRC), University of Bradford is holding a conference on October 14 and 15 concentrating on the misuse of civil research in chemistry and biology.

The conference, “The Convergence of Chemistry and Biology and the Biosecurity Education of Life Scientists: Synthetic Biology, Neuroscience and Recent Educational Advances”  brings an end to a major grant from the Welcome Trust to the Universities of Bath, Bradford, Canberra and Exeter on Building a Sustainable Capacity in Dual-Use Bioethics.

In 2012, the controversial publication of the Gain-of-Function experiments (designed to make deadly H5N1 influenza transmissible amongst humans) raised public concern about the threat of chemical and biological misuse. Previous to this, the security community’s fears were met with the sending of anthrax impregnated letters in the USA in 2001.

The misuse of civil research in chemistry and biology has a long history (WWI – chemical weapons use & WWII - bioweapons programmes) and there is a perception that recent major advances in chemistry and biology make it much easier to cause deadly harm through the misuse of chemical and biological agents.

One of the main discussion points at the meeting will be how the sciences of chemistry and biology are converging at pace. Another concern to be raised is the lack of awareness amongst scientists of the dangers of deadly misuse largely because such security issues are not covered in their education.

The Conference, opened by the University of Bradford’s new Vice Chancellor Professor Brian Cantor, will include presentations by both those involved in the policy and the academic communities. It is intended to produce a policy-relevant publication to be circulated to State Parties of the CWC and the BTWC.

11 October 13

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For further information please contact the University of Bradford Press Office on 01274 23 3089/3084.

Out of office hours call 07879 437996. Alternatively, e-mail press@bradford.ac.uk or fax on (01274) 236280.