PLS Main Title Banner

Welcome    Editors et al.
Information for contributors
Books    Letters
Back issues    Search

Edited at
Texas Tech University

Hosted by
The School of Public Policy,
University of Maryland
Welcome to an online resource

     POLITICS AND THE LIFE SCIENCES is proud to host an online open-access project,


     Few life scientists trained over the last thirty years have explicitly been prepared for the prospect that molecular biology and biotechnology would actually be used to attack, to terrorize, or to sabotage. Or that their own work would be scrutinized not just by peers concerned with error but by governments concerned with intent. Times have changed.
     Biosecurity is sure to be a worry in any foreseeable future, even a peaceful and prosperous one. As they themselves will ultimately bear responsibility for biosecurity maintenance, whatever nations do or international agreements require, life scientists must now educate themselves about the risk that the scientific enterprise – their own efforts included – might be exploited for the worst of reasons or might recklessly be applied with the worst of consequences. They must actively help mitigate this risk.
     This online resource has been created for life scientists by life scientists. It is designed primarily for students embarking upon their careers — advanced undergraduates and first-year graduate biology and medical students — and for their teachers. Students may know the basics of molecular biology and biotechnology but not yet appreciate the ease with which legitimate work might be exploited for illegitimate purposes. And they may have no more than the conscientious citizen’s knowledge of national security, international affairs, and biological-weapons control. This course is sufficiently sophisticated in content and presentation to engage life scientists concerned about biosecurity but should also prove accessible to non-scientists, particularly students of and specialists in international security.
     Anyone may view BIOSECURITY, and any not-for-profit use is encouraged, including instructional use in colleges, universities, and other institutions. Materials include case studies and multi-media presentations. These can be viewed one-by-one in any order or presented start-to-finish as a short stand-alone course, or they can be integrated, in whole or in part, into an existing syllabus. Individuals may return to BIOSECURITY any number of times, as wished, or classroom students may be shown some or all parts on whatever schedule an instructor might find advantageous. Case studies have been developed to encourage group discussion of particular issues and policy options, especially those affecting the integration of science — and an individual investigator’s own work — into society. We would appreciate your evaluation; please click the last hyperlink in the column to your right.
     BIOSECURITY is an ongoing project of The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation and is under continual development. The current release is a complete test version, and we would appreciate suggestions for improvement. Also, we encourage contributions of educational materials, especially copyright-free images complementing illustrations already in place. We have diligently sought permissions for the use of all images but have had considerable difficulty identifying copyright owners. For some images we have identified a likely source but have not yet received a response to verification requests. Our intention is to credit all copyright owners accurately. If you are a copyright owner and have not been properly credited, please let us know.
     We invite comments, questions, and requests at

To enter, click the scanning electron micrograph below.

To evaluate, click here.