e-Public Policy Update - January 2012

ASM Publishes Special Commentaries on H5N1
In response to recent actions of the U.S. National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB), which recommended that two scientific journals withhold crucial details in upcoming reports about experiments with a novel strain of the bird flu virus, H5N1,  the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) has published a special series of commentaries by prominent scientists, including the acting chair of the NSABB, weighing in on whether the recommendations were necessary and what role biosecurity considerations should play in the dissemination of research findings. The commentaries are published in the Society's online, open-access journal, mBio®.  The commentaries are accompanied by an editorial from Editor-in-Chief Arturo Casadevall and ASM Publications Board Chair Thomas Shenk who introduce the problem as the H5N1 manuscript redaction controversy.  A press release is posted on the ASM web page here: NSABB and H5N1 Redactions: Biosecurity Runs Up Against Scientific Endeavor with links to the mBio® commentaries.

ASM Biodefense Meeting Features Discussion on H5N1 Research
Discussion of NSABB’s Publication Recommendations for the NIH-funded Research on the Transmissibility of H5N1

Wednesday, February 29, 2012 | 7:15 a.m. – 8:15 a.m.

Website:  http://www.asmbiodefense.org/index.php/program-information/nsabbs-recommendations-for-h5n1-research

Moderated by the Chair of the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB), Paul Keim, Ph.D., this newly added session at the ASM Biodefense and Emerging Diseases Research Meeting will include discussions of the NSABB’s recommendations for the publication of the controversial H5N1 research. This session will also provide an open forum for attendees to give their feedback on such policy issues as the appropriate mechanisms to allay public concerns about the safety of dual use research.


NSABB Recommendations

Michael T. Osterholm, Ph.D., MPH

University of Minnesota School of Public Health, Minneapolis, MN

Director, Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP)

Government Response to the Recommendations

Anthony S. Fauci, M.D.

Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)

Science’s Response to the Situation

Bruce Alberts, Ph.D.

Editor-in-Chief of Science

Perspective from an Investigator

Ron A.M. Fouchier, Ph.D.

Erasmus MC, Rotterdam, Netherlands

Meeting Notice:  Dual Use Research: H5N1 Influenza Virus and Beyond
Thursday, February 2, 2012
| 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM | The New York Academy of Sciences, New York City
Website: http://www.nyas.org/H5N1
The US National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity recently recommended that Nature and Science ask the authors of highly controversial studies with the avian influenza virus, H5N1, to remove certain methodological details. This perceived censorship, which aimed to minimize the risk of these findings being misused by would-be bioterrorists, is unprecedented and has sparked heated controversy in the scientific community. A discussion between scientists, publishers and legal experts will explore the myriad issues surrounding the impending publication of these two studies and measures that will need to be undertaken to ensure the safety and security of future such research.

Moderator: W. Ian Lipkin, MD, Center for Infection & Immunity, Columbia University

Panelists: Arturo Casadevall, MD, PhD, Albert Einstein College of Medicine; Member, NSABB; Laurie Garrett, PhD, Council on Foreign Relations Barbara R. Jasny, PhD, Science; Veronique Kiermer, PhD, Nature Publishing Group; Michael T. Osterholm, PhD, MPH, Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, University of Minnesota; Member, NSABB; Peter Palese, PhD, Mount Sinai School of Medicine; Vincent Racaniello, PhD, Columbia University; Alan S. Ruldolph, PhD, Defense Threat Reduction Agency

ASM Comments on “GRANT Act”
The ASM sent comments to members of the House of Representatives regarding H.R. 3433, the “GRANT Act.”  The legislation entitled. “Grant Reform and New Transparency Act of 2011,” would require grant making agencies to post online complete copies of all applications submitted to them.  This would be burdensome to federal agencies and universities and jeopardize intellectual property.  The Grant Act would require the public disclosure of peer reviews in some areas of research.  The ASM’s letter is available on-line at:  January 24, 2012 - ASM Comments on GRANTS Act

ASM Comments on New FDA Rule on the Use of Cephalosporins in Animals
On January 4, 2012, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an order that prohibits certain uses of the cephalosporin class of antimicrobial drugs in cattle, swine, chickens and turkeys effective April 5, 2012.  The FDA took this action to preserve the effectiveness of cephalosporin drugs for treating disease in humans. Prohibiting these uses is intended to reduce the risk of cephalosporin resistance in certain bacterial pathogens.  The rule is open for comments until April 5, 2012.  To read the rule go to: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-01-06/pdf/2012-35.pdf.   The ASM comments are posted at:  January 25, 2012 - ASM Comments on FDA Cephalosporin Rule.

ASM Attends CLSI Antimicrobial Susceptibility Testing Annual Meeting
The Antimicrobial Susceptibility Testing (AST) subcommittee of the Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute (CLSI) met on January 22-24 in Tempe, AZ.  Additionally, a pre-meeting session was held on Saturday, January 21 and was entitled The Path Forward with Biofilms: Should CLSI try to develop biofilm-related standard methods? This year’s AST meeting was attended by the ASM alternate delegate, Stephen Cavalieri, member of the PSAB Committee on Laboratory Practices.  CLSI promotes the development and use of voluntary consensus standards and guidelines and maintains full committees on microbiology, immunology and ligand assays.  CLSI recently announced the publication of the 2012 Antimicrobial Susceptibility Testing Standards. 

Web Update:  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Posts Update Regarding the Laboratory Associated Infections of Salmonella typhimurium

Meeting Notice:  Malaria 2012: Drugs, Vaccines, and Pathogenesis

April 17, 2012 | 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM  |  The New York Academy of Sciences, New York City

Website:  http://www.nyas.org/Malaria2012
Malaria control options show promise, with effective vaccines in clinical trials, and candidate drugs to address resistance under development. This symposium examines parasite pathogenesis and intervention, and the development of novel therapies.

Global Health Strategy Released
The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) released its first global health strategy on January 6, 2012.  The DHHS set out to explain the administration’s health priorities during an era of budget-cutting.  Currently the DHHS spends more than $1 billion on global health efforts with the focus being on improving relationships with other countries and ensuring stability around the globe, preventing public health problems from harming Americans and fostering research that could benefit the American public.  The strategy is available on-line at:  http://globalhealth.gov/pdfs/GlobalHealthSecretary.pdf.

PSAB 2011 Annual Report
The Public and Scientific Affairs Board (PSAB) has posted its 2011 annual report of activities at: PSAB 2011 Annual Report.  The report highlights the scope of public policy issues overseen by the Board. PSAB also produces monthly newsletters about public affairs (publicaffairsalert) , clinical microbiology (asmclinmicroissuesupdate), minority issues (minoritymicromentor), and hosts a women’s listserv (asmwomeninmicro). To subscribe to any of these go to: Subscribe to Listserv.