Dual use and responsible life science research – A bioethical approach

Much of the life science research conducted today is of ‘dual-use' nature, which means that it can have both peaceful (civil) and military applications. The current perception of a bio-terrorist threat (due to recent terrorist events) and the subsequent security countermeasures, demands the scientific community to take responsibility and assist in protecting biological material and knowledge of concern.

This PhD project examined the responsibility of life science researchers in circumventing proliferation of biological material, technology and knowledge to actors with malicious intents. Central questions included; if life science researchers have a responsibility to minimize the risk of proliferation and, if so, what does that responsibility entail, what is the response to proposed obligations among life science researchers, and how is security consciousness to be implemented in life science research?


Kuhlau F, Responsible Conduct in Dual Use Research: Towards an Ethic of Deliberation in the Life Sciences, Doctoral dissertation, Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2013

Kuhlau F, Evers K, Eriksson S and Höglund AT, Applied Biosafety: Ethical competence in dual use life science research, Journal of the American Biological Safety Association, 2012;17(3):120-127.

Kuhlau F, Hart J, Biosecurity, in: Burgess J P (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of New Security Studie, Routledge, 2010

Kuhlau F, Höglund AT, Evers K, Eriksson S, A precautionary principle for dual use research in the life sciences, Bioethics, 2011;25:1-8

Kuhlau F, Eriksson S, Evers K, Höglund AT, Taking Due Care: Moral obligations in dual use research, Bioethics, 2008:22(9):477-487.

PhD Student

Frida Kuhlau defended her thesis on dual use and responsible life science research in March 2013. She started her PhD studies in bioethics in 2007. She holds a degree in Political Science. Before starting her PhD studies she worked at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) on chemical and biological warfare (2001-2007). Her thesis focus was how means and methods in bioethics can be used to prevent proliferation of biological weapons.


Thinking about ethics

Why would a cancer patient agree to test a drug that might not be effective on their own disease? And are researchers responsible if their research can be used to develop biological weapons? This collection of texts might not provide the answers, but at least give you some food for thought.

Pär Segerdahl invites you on a journey through some of the issues that the Ethics Blog has dealt with in the recent years. He writes about researchers’ responsibilities, about participating in research and about information and integrity. But he also writes about ethics as such: What is it today, really? In this book you can read about data protection and population based biobank studies. But you can also read about apes writing articles and about the risk with knowing the risk.

This book contains a collection of Pär Segerdahl's posts from the Ethics Blog (ISBN: 978-91-506-2433-5). There is also a Swedish version of the book: Tänker om etik

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