Covid-19 Response

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EASAC kicks off new project on "Gain of function"


The EASAC "Gain of Function" project was initiated to explore the issues (potential risks and benefits) raised by recent research on the modification of the H5N1 virus to manipulate its transmission potential, to spread by aerosol to humans. The engineering of potential pandemic pathogens raises issues for biosafety, biosecurity and ethics in science. It is likely that the analysis and conclusions from the EASAC project will be relevant to a broad range of pathogens and other potentially dangerous experiments.

The project will examine issues for scientific responsibility at the individual and institutional levels, whether current regulations and codes of practice are sufficient, how good practice to manage research risk can be shared across the EU, what are the ethical issues involved and how best should the scientific community engage with the public to inform debate on these matters. The project will take account of current discussions outside the EU, particularly in the USA.

EASAC recommendations will be directed to those who make or inform policy at the EU and Member State levels, regulatory authorities, researchers, their funding bodies and professional associations and, in a separate communication, outputs will be discussed with the community-at-large.

EASAC welcomes submissions of written evidence on any point relating to this project. Please send your written contribution to Material will be particularly useful if received by 12 January 2015.


The members of the EASAC Working Group are:

  • Volker ter Meulen (Chair, Germany)
  • Göran Hermerén (Sweden)
  • Ursula Jenal (Switzerland)
  • Hans Klenk (Germany)
  • Andre Knottnerus (The Netherlands)
  • Maria Masucci (Sweden)
  • John McCauley (UK)
  • Thomas Mettenleiter (Germany)
  • Birger Moller (Denmark)
  • Giorgio Palu (Italy)
  • Gyorgy Posfai (Hungary)
  • Bert Rima (Ireland)
  • Philippe Sansonetti (France)
  • John Skehel (UK)
  • Lous van Vloten-Doting (The Netherlands)
  • Simon Wain-Hobson (France)
  • Robin Fears (secretariat, UK)
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