The Open Philanthropy Project awarded a grant of $452,545 to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) to support its organization of an international meeting on the governance of dual-use research in the life sciences. NASEM is a collective of nonprofit institutions that aim to help shape policies, inform public opinion, and advance the pursuit of science, engineering, and medicine. This grant falls within Open Philanthropy's work on biosecurity and pandemic preparedness.
The Open Philanthropy Project is concerned that advances in biotechnology and democratization of access may lower the technical barriers to unleashing a pandemic that poses a global catastrophic risk. Countries around the world are expanding their life science research capacity and their investment in advanced biotechnology, but, in Open Philanthropy's view, many of them lack adequate safeguards to manage the potential risks of this work, and there is little international consensus on how to govern it. To address this problem, NASEM plans to collaborate with the InterAcademy Partnership, a global network of academies of sciences, engineering, and medicine, to hold a meeting of scientists, government representatives, funders, representatives of international organizations, and policy experts from think tanks.
The goals for the meeting include collecting information about the current state of dual-use research governance internationally through discussions about current governance approaches in a range of countries; providing a forum for ongoing conversation about how this research might be governed; and, in the longer term, influencing policy to reduce risks from dual-use research in the life sciences.