Bird flu research needs broader discussion

HSPH infectious disease expert Marc Lipsitch is concerned that the public has shown little interest in the debate over the potential risks and benefits of conducting bird flu research. There needs to be a much broader conversation that goes beyond the scientific community, the professor of epidemiology told NPR’s “Morning Edition” on July 24, 2012.

Lipsitch, who directs HSPH’s Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, was one of several scientists interviewed who called for expanded discussion of the potentially deadly research. “I’m a little disappointed that it hasn’t been a very public discussion,” he said, adding that the discussion has mostly been within the flu research community. “The risks are that one of these viruses gets out of a laboratory and starts to spread from person to person. And so the people who have something at stake are not the scientific community only.”

In late July flu researchers will gather in New York to discuss the future of bird flu research at the annual conference of the government-funded Centers of Excellence for Influenza Research and Surveillance. Among the topics will be the voluntary moratorium announced by top influenza researchers earlier this year on work with contagious, lab-altered forms of a particularly worrisome form of bird flu.

Listen to the NPR “Morning Edition” story

Read the NPR blog

Learn more

Bird Flu Research: Dangerous Information on a Deadly Virus (HSPH 2012 Forum webcast presented in collaboration with Reuters)

Influenza: H1N1, Avian flu (HSPH News)

Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics

Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases

Department of Epidemiology