New report to offer a responsible path forward for research with pandemic risks 

By Sarah Starkey | February 15, 2024

On February 28, 2024, at 10:00 a.m. ET. the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists will release the final report of its Independent Task Force on Research with Pathogen Risk at the United Nations headquarters in New York. The report will offer recommendations on how to make research with pandemic risks more safe, secure, and responsible. The task force is composed of members with expertise in biosafety, biosecurity, epidemiology, ethics, governance virology, and other related areas 

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the potentially devastating impact of a single virus and raised concerns that humanity’s encounters with deadly pathogens may occur more frequently in coming years. Encroachment on the natural environment and climate-driven alterations in ecosystems may provide increasing opportunities for viruses to move across species, including to humans. In addition, field collection and experimental manipulation of potential pandemic viruses—while scientifically informative—can under some circumstances carry the risk of accidentally, inadvertently, or intentionally seeding a pandemic. 

With this in mind, in 2022 the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists convened the Independent Task Force on Research with Pandemic Risks with the goal of developing responsible and sustainable research practices. 

The task force met virtually six times beginning in the fall of 2022 to consider trends and oversight of high-risk pathogen research. In April of 2023, the task force hosted a public meeting on “Creating the Framework for Tomorrow’s Pathogen Research” in Geneva, Switzerland. This public-facing conference included task force members, policy leaders, journalists, scientists, and civic leaders, among others. Its discussions informed the report being released at the end of February. 

To prevent global catastrophe, governments must first admit there’s a problem
Jesse Bloom, co-director of the Task Force on Research with Pandemic Risks, speaks at the April 2023 conference.
Jesse Bloom, co-director of the Task Force on Research with Pandemic Risks, speaks at the April 2023 conference.

The event will be broadcast live at 

 About the Bulletin 

The Bulletin equips the public, policymakers, and scientists with the information needed to reduce man-made threats to our existence.  The Bulletin’s website, iconic Doomsday Clock, and regular events help advance actionable ideas at a time when technology is outpacing our ability to control it. The Bulletin focuses on three main areas: nuclear risk, climate change, and disruptive technologies. What connects these topics is a driving belief that because humans created them, we can control them. Learn more about the Bulletin. 

Media contact 

The event is open to UN-credentialed journalists and interested parties. To RSVP and/or apply for credentials, contact Alex Frank, +1 (703) 276-3264 or [email protected]. 

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