Perspectives on Research with H5N1 Avian Influenza: Scientific Inquiry, Communication, Controversy
When, in late 2011, it became public knowledge that two research groups had submitted for publication manuscripts that reported on their work on mammalian transmissibility of a lethal H5N1 avian influenza strain, the information caused an international debate about the appropriateness and communication of the researchers’ work, the risks associated with the work, partial or complete censorship of scientific publications, and dual-use research of concern in general.
Recognizing that the H5N1 research is only the most recent scientific activity subject to widespread attention due to safety and security concerns, on May 1, 2012, CSTL, in conjunction with the National Academy of Sciences' Board on Life Sciences and the Institute of Medicine’s Forum on Microbial Threats, convened a one-day public workshop for the purposes of 1) discussing the H5N1 controversy; 2) considering responses by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), which had funded this research, the World Health Organization, the U.S. National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB), scientific publishers, and members of the international research community; and 3) providing a forum wherein the concerns and interests of the broader community of stakeholders, including policy makers, biosafety and biosecurity experts, non-governmental organizations, international organizations, and the general public might be articulated.
Perspectives on Research with H5N1 Avian Influenza: Scientific Inquiry, Communication, Controversy; Summary of a Workshop summarizes the workshop proceedings.
National Institute of Justice Funds Latent Fingerprint Interoperability Survey
During 2011 and 2012, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) developed a Latent Fingerprint Interoperability Survey (LFIOS) for the purposes of collecting data on state and local law enforcement agencies that maintain an automated fingerprint identification system (AFIS). The survey is intended to help law enforcement and government administrators, legislators and researchers understand the technological and regulatory barriers affecting automated, cross-jurisdictional interoperability. It is motivated, in part, by the need identified in the 2009 CSTL report, Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward. The report noted that, “Great improvement is possible with respect to AFIS interoperability. Many crimes no doubt go unsolved today simply because investigating agencies cannot search across all the individual databases that might hold a suspect's fingerprints or contain a match for an unidentified latent print from a crime scene. It is possible,” the report observed, “that some perpetrators have gone free because of the limitations on fingerprint searches."
On March 28, 2013, NIJ announced that it had allocated funds to conduct the survey. LFIOS will collect data about the vendors being used, AFIS use patterns, and jurisdictions with which law enforcement agencies currently share information. According to NIJ, the resulting information will provide a comprehensive qualitative and quantitative basis to make specific decisions to improve interoperability related to latent fingerprints to maximize the value of this type of forensic evidence in an equitable way based on the available evidence and data.
Forensic Science Report Project Information