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Qualitative and Quantitative Assessment of the 'Dangerous Activities' Categories Defined by the CISSM Controlling Dangerous Pathogens Project

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The Controlling Dangerous Pathogens Project of the Center for International Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM) outlines a prototype oversight system for ongoing microbiological research to control its possible misapplication. This so-called Biological Research Security System (BRSS) foresees the creation of regional, national, and international oversight bodies that review, approve, or reject those proposed microbiological research projects that would fit three BRSS-defined categories: Potentially Dangerous Activities (PDA), Moderately Dangerous Activities (MDA), and Extremely Dangerous Activities (EDA). It is the objective of this working paper to assess these categories qualitatively and quantitatively. To do so, published US research of the years 2000-present (early- to mid-2005) will be screened for science reports that would have fallen under the proposed oversight system had it existed already. Qualitatively, these selective reports will be sorted according to the subcategories of each individual Dangerous Activity, broken down by microbiological agent, and year. Quantitatively, institutes and researchers, which conducted research that would have fallen under review by BRSS, will be listed according to category and year. Taken together, the results of this survey will give an overview of the number of research projects, institutes, and researchers that would have been affected had the new proposed system existed, and thus should allow estimating the potential impact of BRSS on US microbiological academic and industrial research in the future. Furthermore, this working paper might aid refining the proposed system.