Governance of dual-use research: An ethical dilemma

Michael J. Selgelid

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Scenarios where the results of well-intentioned scientific research can be used for both good and harmful purposes give rise to what is now widely known as the "dual-use dilemma". There has been growing debate about the dual-use nature of life science research with implications for making biological weapons. This paper reviews several controversial publications that have been the focus of debates about dual-use life science research and critically examines relevant policy developments, particularly in the United States of America. Though the dual-use dilemma is inherently ethical in nature, the majority of debates about dual-use research have primarily involved science and security experts rather than ethicists. It is important that there is more ethical input into debates about the governance of dual-use research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)720-723
Number of pages4
JournalBulletin of the World Health Organization
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2009
Externally publishedYes

Cite this