Centre for Research Ethics & Bioethics (CRB)

Dual Uses of Biomedicine: Whose responsibility?

Dual Uses of Biomedicine: Whose responsibility?

X Annual Swedish Symposium on Biomedicine, Ethics and Society: Seglarhotellet, Sandhamn, 9-10 June 2008

Dual Uses of Biomedicine

The perception of a bioterrorist threat has, in the past decade, increased and created a demand on life scientists to consider potential security implications of dual use research. The term ‘dual use’ can have several usages. In this symposium it will refer to technologies that can have both civil and military applications, with a focus on equipment and biological material that could be misused for biological weapons purposes as well as the generation or dissemination of scientific knowledge that could be misapplied for such purposes.

Conference documentation (pdf, 1,16 MB) >

Dual use research raises a wide range of ethical dilemmas. For example the tension between, on the one hand, a public desire to control dual use research of concern and, on the other hand, preserving fundamental values such as scientific autonomy and freedom.

In recent years, obligations for life scientists have been proposed suggesting that life science researchers have certain responsibilities to consider potential harmful implications of their work and to assist in preventing misuses of science for biological weapon purposes. This symposium aims to address who is responsible and for what. The symposium will discuss issues such as; ethics, law and codes of conduct, moral obligations for life scientists, biosafety and biosecurity governance and awareness raising activities in academia. The first day consists of four keynote lectures, delivered by:  

Malcolm Dando: Arms Control expert and Professor of International Security at Bradford University, United Kingdom, who will speak about "Raising Dual Use Awareness in Academia: Experiences and reflections".

Ingegerd Kallings: Senior Medical Officer and Biosafety Advisor at the Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control, who will speak about "Biosafety and Biosecurity Governance in Life Science Research: Public health aspects; explaining the concepts and their relation; ethical relevance".  

Frida Kuhlau: PhD Student in Bioethics at the Centre for Research Ethics and Bioethics, Uppsala University, who will speak about "Taking Due Care in Life Science: Moral obligations in dual use research".

Margaret Somerville: Acting Director for the McGill Centre for Medicine, Ethics, and Law, Montreal, Canada, who will speak about "Preventing the 'Life Sciences' from Becoming the 'Death Sciences': Ethics, law and codes of conduct in dual use research".

The second day consists of presentations in parallel sessions, one on challenges to monitoring and governance, and one on contextual approaches.

Programme published 2008-05-20
Session I: Challenges to monitoring and governance (programme
Session II: Contextual approaches

More information

The symposium was arranged in collaboration with

Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, www.sipri.org
Swedish Emergency Management Agency, www.krisberedskapsmyndigheten.se
Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, www.sweden.gov.se
Swedish Research Council, www.vr.se
Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation), www.rj.se

Planning committee

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact the planning committee:

Josepine Fernow, co-ordinator, josepine.fernow@crb.uu.se
Phone: +46 18 611 22 96

Stefan Eriksson, ThD, Senior Researcher

Kathinka Evers, Associate Professor, Senior Researcher

Anna Höglund, Associate Professor, Senior Lecturer

Frida Kuhlau, MsC, PhD Student

Centre for Research Ethics & Bioethics
E-mail: crb@crb.uu.se

Biomedicine, Ethics and Society
More information

Conference documentation
(pdf, 1,16 MB) >

Abstracts and papers >

Making the dual-use problem a "piece of cake"

Symposium report by Malcolm Dando in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist: Read article >

Keynote speakers

Malcolm Dando, University of Bradford, United Kingdom

Ingegerd Kallings, the Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control

Frida Kuhlau, Centre for Research Ethics & Bioethics

Margaret Somerville, McGill Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law, Canada


Biomedicine, Ethics and Society