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NHMRC supports bird flu research moratorium

Warwick Anderson, the head of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), is supporting the voluntary 60-day suspension of avian flu research and publishing proposed by the US National Institutes of Health.

Francis Collins, the head of the NIH, and Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, proposed the suspension on 20 January. In a statement, they said that the suspension was being proposed to prevent terrorists plotting attacks using information on research that enhances the transmissibility of avian flu viruses in mammals, or H5N1 viruses already shown to be transmissable in ferrets.

Warwick Anderson, in a statement published on 31 January, said: “NHMRC welcomes international consideration of the complex scientific and ethical issues that arise when investigator driven research has implications for international biosecurity, and will closely monitor developments.”