On Thursday April 22, the Biosecurity Office launched a new tool, the Dual-Use Quickscan (Dutch version). The purpose of the Dual-Use Quickscan is to identify potential dual-use aspects in the research. In addition, this tool contributes to stimulating dual-use awareness among researchers.

Research in the life sciences can have a dual-use character, which means that the results of the research could possibly also be used for malicious purposes. For example, biological agents, including the knowledge about them and underlying techniques, can be used for both benign and malignant purposes. It is extremely important to conduct research regarding pathogenic organisms and developments in the medical, biological and agricultural field as an important social contribution. However, some of these organisms can also be used to develop biological weapons that can endanger public health and the environment. It is therefore important that researchers and persons responsible for biological safety, in particular, check whether the research that is taking place poses potential dual-use risks.

Dual-Use Quickscan

The online Dual-Use Quickscan (www.dualusequickscan.com) consists of 15 questions that have been extracted from (scientific) literature and reports, with the aim to let researchers think about possible dual-use aspects of their research. For each question an explanation is given and the question is clarified with some clear examples from literature. The results of the Dual-Use Quickscan provide an indication of whether the study contains a possible dual-use aspect. The researcher can discuss with the person in the organization responsible for biological safety how to handle this carefully.

Researchers can voluntarily fill in the tool at any time during the research (from funding application to the publication of research results). The focus is on researchers working in the life sciences who work with (parts or products of, or knowledge about) microorganisms, and carry out (laboratory) activities for research, development or production processes.

During the development of the Dual-Use Quickscan, the Biosecurity Office was assisted by an expert group consisting of researchers, biological safety officers and safety experts from academia, industry and government.

The tool is currently available in Dutch, but the English version will be launched on 21 June 2021 during a free webinar. This webinar is devoted to increase biosecurity and dual-use awareness among researchers and will be held in English. You can register for this webinar via www.bureaubiosecurity.nl/webinar.