Rep. Sensenbrenner Sends Second Letter Inquiring About U.S. Government’s Review Of Controversial H5N1 Studies
“A senior Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives is asking more questions about how the U.S. government reviewed two controversial H5N1 avian influenza studies, and how it wrote a new policy for reviewing taxpayer-funded studies that might be used for good and evil,” ScienceInsider reports. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.) on Monday “sent a letter [.pdf] to Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), asking him to clarify how the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) reached its recent decision to recommend publication of the two studies after recommending against publication late last year,” the news service writes, noting, “The letter also asks for more information on which government officials were involved” in the new policy regarding research that might be “dual use research of concern” (DURC).
“Sensenbrenner’s letter appears to have been prompted, in part, by complaints about the NSABB process outlined in a letter to NIH officials written earlier this month by one member of the panel, Michael Osterholm of the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities,” according to ScienceInsider. The news service notes that on March 1, Sensenbrenner wrote to White House science adviser John Holdren, “asking similar questions about how the Obama Administration has handled the H5N1 controversy,” to which Holdren replied on April 9. “The letter comes as a Senate panel prepares for a hearing later this week on how the U.S. government is handling biological research that could have dual use,” the news service writes (Malakoff, 4/23).