HHS needs better oversight of research that alters pathogens, government watchdog says

WASHINGTON — The health department’s oversight of research that could enhance dangerous pathogens has vague parameters, a lack of transparency, and “does not fully meet the key elements of effective oversight,” a nonpartisan federal watchdog found in a report released Wednesday.

The Government Accountability Office’s report is a precursor to a debate that will heat up at the National Institutes of Health over the next few weeks. NIH has an advisory board for biosecurity that’s expected to discuss a draft review of the agency’s oversight of this kind of research at a Jan. 27 meeting, and the materials are expected to be released ahead of time.

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