The anthrax attacks that took the lives of five people and infected seventeen others took place ten years ago. What are the repurcussions of the events in the Fall of 2001 for science? That’s the question Mike Imperiale of the University of Michigan and Arturo Casadevall of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine seek to address with their new Opinion piece in mBio this week. They say the overall effect of the attacks has been a mixed bag.
On the plus side, say Imperiale and Casadevall, the extra dollars that concern about bioterrorism preparedness has brought to biology research have been welcome at a time when federal funding of biology research overall has declined. But beyond this benefit, the news has mostly been pretty bleak: the added regulatory burden of heightening security has slowed research and increased the expense of studying select agents such as anthrax, discouraged new talent from entering the field, and resulted in the destruction of several microbial collections while preventing the development of new ones.
If you’re involved in research on select agents, has the research climate changed for you since the anthrax attacks? Have the changes helped improve your work or do they detract from it? Use the comments function to let us know.