Sunday, May 6, 2012

NIH says it didn't try to steer H5N1 studies call

A U.S. government official has refuted criticism of the way a meeting held to allow a biosecurity advisory group to review controversial bird flu studies was handled.

Dr. Amy Patterson, associate director for science policy in the office of the director of the National Institutes of Health, was responding to a harsh critique of the meeting from Michael Osterholm, a member of the U.S. National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity.

In a letter to Patterson dated April 12, Osterholm slammed the agenda and speakers list of a March 29-30 meeting convened so that the NSABB could consider new drafts of two studies the board had previously advised should only be published in an abbreviated form.

The studies reveal how H5N1 viruses can be mutated to become transmissible among mammals. Late last year the NSABB recommended the U.S. government ask the journals planning to publish the papers to withhold details of how the work was done for security reasons. Read More