Annals of Health Law
DURC is fraught with both risks and opportunities. While research to
enhance understanding of the deleterious effects of dangerous pathogens
certainly falls within the public interest, ensuring that such research is
conducted within the confines of sound scientific judgment and adequate
security protects both the researchers and public at large. Due to the highly
competitive nature of cutting-edge research, it is difficult to expect private
or academic laboratories to be capable of policing themselves in this effort
to maintain safety. Consequently, a clear (if limited) role for external
governance of the safety requirements can surely be advantageous in certain
defined circumstances. As discussed in Part IV, governmental authorities
frequently provide such external governance by enacting laws and adopting
public policies to protect the public from certain types of dangerous
IV. THE TOOLBOX OF PUBLIC HEALTH LAW: CURRENT LAWS AND
POLICIES TO KEEP THE PUBLIC SAFE FROM
DANGEROUS BIOMEDICAL RESEARCH
As the authors have asserted elsewhere, governments have a “legitimate
interest [to] fulfill ... their fundamental responsibility to protect their
citizens that justifies taking reasonable actions to regulate activities . . .
pos[ing] a significant threat to the general welfare of the public[.]”24
Furthermore, governments “arguably have a compelling interest that
justifies taking necessary actions to regulate such activities[.]”25 Scientific
experiments and research on dangerous biological agents are clear examples
of such activities, given the potential threats to populations and
communities posed by the misuse or accidents related to such research.26
Consequently, governments at the federal, state, and local levels in the
United States have taken various steps to address biological-based threats to
the general public welfare as a matter of law and public policy.27
The most comprehensive legal and policy efforts to keep the public safe
from dangerous biomedical research have occurred at the federal level.28
24. Patrick P. Rose et al., Creating Monsters for the Greater Good of Humanity:
Conflicting Interests of Science and Homeland Security, J. EMERGENCY MGMT., Mar.-Apr.
2012 at 83, 87, available at www.mdchhs.com/articles-resources/articles/creating-monsters-greater-good-humanity-conflicting-interests-science-an; see infra Part V( A) and text
accompanying notes 41-45 for an elaboration of arguments supporting this assertion.
25. Rose et al., supra note 24.
26. See Part III, supra.
27. Rose et al., supra note 24, at 87.
28. This makes sense, given the nationwide scope of the threat posed by DURC and
given that the U.S. government (through the National Institutes of Health and other federal