NSABB -- H5N1 Research Issues Resources Page

In December 2011, the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity took the unprecedented step of recommending that two research groups withhold key details from their pending publications on the H5N1 avian influenza virus. The studies describe specific mutations in the virus' genome that allow it to be transmitted as droplets between ferrets, a known animal model for human infection.  Airborne transmission of H5N1 between humans could trigger a worldwide pandemic, potentially infecting millions of people.

The decision has sparked debate around the world about the free flow of scientific information and how to balance public health and biosecurity.  To help our members and the public understand the issue better, the ASM has developed this resources page outlining what the Society is doing in response to this unprecedented event as well as links to news and commentaries.


ASM Resources


News Stack
A regularly updated collection of news and commentaries on the issue

Journal of Virology
The Editor in Chief of the Journal of Virology shares his experience with submissions dealing with select agent viruses in light of the recent H5N1 developments.

H5N1 Session at ASM Biodefense
The ASM has added a special session to its annual Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases Meeting.


mBio® commentaries
The ASM has published commentaries from prominent researchers as well as an editorial from the Editor-in-Chief

Ferret-Transmissible Influenza A(H5N1) Virus: Let Us Err on the Side of Caution by Lisa N. Murillo

Working Safely with H5N1 Viruses by Adolfo García-Sastre

Biosafety Considerations of Mammalian-Transmissible H5N1 Influenza by Michael J. Imperiale and Michael G. Hanna III

Mammalian-Transmissible H5N1 Virus: Containment Level and Case Fatality Ratio by Arturo Casadevall and Thomas Shenk


Opinion: H5N1 Flu Is Just As Dangerous As Feared, Now Requires Action by Michael T. Osterholm and Nicholas S. Kelley

The H5N1 Manuscript Redaction Controversy by Arturo Casadevall and Thomas Shenk

The NSABB Recommendations: Rationale, Impact, and Implications by Paul S. Keim

Science Should Be in the Public Domain by Vincent R. Racaniello

Mammalian-Transmissible H5N1 Influenza: the Dilemma of Dual-Use Research by Robert G. Webster

ASM and the Times

Past-President Ronald Atlas speaks with the New York Times on the NSABB decision

Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Virology Lynn Enquist talks to National Public Radio.

This Week in Virology (TWiV)
The TWiVites discuss seroevidence for human infection with avian influenza H5N1.

NEW! The Royal Society
Watch the complete video online of the two-day symposium held by the Royal Society to address the H5N1 research issues, sponsored in part by the American Society for Microbiology.

Other Resources

NIH News Press Statement on NSABB Review
December 20, 2011 – The official announcement of the NSABB decision.

NSABB Explanation
Members of the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity explain its recommendations on the communication of experimental work on H5N1 influenza.