Dual Use Research and Gain-of-Function: Perspective of a Junior Scientist

Benjamin G. Hale, University of Glasgow, Centre for Virus Research; Silke Stertz, University of Zurich, Institute of Medical Virology (IMV)
Speech at the Herrenhausen Symposium "Dual Use Research on Microbes: Biosafety, Biosecurity, Responsibility", 12.12.2014

Benjamin G. Hale talks about the boundaries between dual use research of concern and gain-of-function experiments that are becoming more and more muddied. He points out that gain-of-function research encompasses a wide-range of experiments and is not limited to studies on increasing virulence or transmission. He analyses the impact of the discussion on junior scientists and the consequences for attractiveness of the field of research.
Subsequently, Silke Stertz speaks about cellular proteins that the influenza virus uses to enter host cells and how these cellular factors facilitate viral entry. She explains how researchers can use this kind of information to develop drugs against influenza viruses. She also analyzes the responsibility of scientists and the importance of communicating decision processes. Hale completed his Ph.D. at the University of St. Andrews, UK, before undertaking postdoctoral training at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, USA. In 2011, Dr. Hale was appointed Group Leader and Lecturer at the MRC – University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research, UK, where his laboratory studies the interplay between influenza virus virulence factors and cellular signaling networks. Silke Stertz completed her Ph.D. at the Albert-Ludwigs University Freiburg, Germany. She joined the laboratory of Prof. Peter Palese at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, USA, for her postdoctoral training. In 2011, Dr. Stertz was appointed assistant professor at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, where she started her own research group. Her work focuses on the interplay of influenza viruses with their host cell, particularly at the stage of virus entry.

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