Update Oct 17: The US Government announces an immediate funding stop for gain-of-function research & convenes workshop. More in News
July 14, 2014

Cambridge Working Group Consensus Statement on the Creation of Potential Pandemic Pathogens (PPPs)

Recent incidents involving smallpox, anthrax and bird flu in some of the top US laboratories remind us of the fallibility of even the most secure laboratories, reinforcing the urgent need for a thorough reassessment of biosafety. Such incidents have been accelerating and have been occurring on average over twice a week with regulated pathogens in academic and government labs across the country. An accidental infection with any pathogen is concerning. But accident risks with newly created “potential pandemic pathogens” raise grave new concerns. Laboratory creation of highly transmissible, novel strains of dangerous viruses, especially but not limited to influenza, poses substantially increased risks. An accidental infection in such a setting could trigger outbreaks that would be difficult or impossible to control. Historically, new strains of influenza, once they establish transmission in the human population, have infected a quarter or more of the world’s population within two years.

For any experiment, the expected net benefits should outweigh the risks. Experiments involving the creation of potential pandemic pathogens should be curtailed until there has been a quantitative, objective and credible assessment of the risks, potential benefits, and opportunities for risk mitigation, as well as comparison against safer experimental approaches. A modern version of the Asilomar process, which engaged scientists in proposing rules to manage research on recombinant DNA, could be a starting point to identify the best approaches to achieve the global public health goals of defeating pandemic disease and assuring the highest level of safety. Whenever possible, safer approaches should be pursued in preference to any approach that risks an accidental pandemic.
Original Signatories & Founding Members:
(Founding Members met in Cambridge on July 14 and crafted the statement)
  • Amir Attaran, University of Ottawa
  • Barry Bloom, Harvard School of Public Health
  • Arturo Casadevall, Albert Einstein College of Medicine
  • Richard Ebright, Rutgers University
  • Nicholas G. Evans, University of Pennsylvania
  • David Fisman, University of Toronto Dalla Lana School of Public Health
  • Alison Galvani, Yale School of Public Health
  • Peter Hale, Foundation for Vaccine Research
  • Edward Hammond, Third World Network
  • Michael Imperiale, University of Michigan
  • Thomas Inglesby, UPMC Center for Health Security
  • Marc Lipsitch, Harvard School of Public Health
  • Michael Osterholm, University of Minnesota/CIDRAP
  • David Relman, Stanford University
  • Richard Roberts (Nobel Laureate '93), New England Biolabs
  • Marcel Salathé, Pennsylvania State University
  • Lone Simonsen, George Washington University
  • Silja Vöneky, University of Freiburg Institute of Public Law, Deutscher Ethikrat
Charter Members:
(Charter Members of the Cambridge Working Group endorse the statement)
  • Porter W. Anderson Jr (Lasker laureate '96), Harvard Medical School & University of Rochester
  • Roy Anderson, Imperial College London, UK
  • Rustom Antia, Emory University
  • Ann Arvin, Stanford University School of Medicine
  • Birgitta Åsjö, University of Bergen, Norway
  • John Bartlett, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
  • Patrick Berche, Necker-Enfants Malades Medical School, Paris, France
  • Paul Berg (Nobel laureate '80), Stanford University
  • Pamela Björkman, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena
  • Steven Black, Center for Global Health, Cincinnati Children's Hospital
  • Jesse D. Bloom, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
  • Sebastian Bonhoeffer, ETH Zürich, Switzerland
  • Michel Brahic, Department of Genetics, Stanford University School of Medicine
  • Christian Bréchot, Institut Pasteur, Paris
  • Sydney Brenner (Nobel laureate '02)
  • Roger Brent, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
  • John S. Brownstein, Harvard Medical School
  • Donald S. Burke, University of Pittsburgh
  • Dennis Burton , Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla
  • Donald Coen, Harvard Medical School
  • Vittorio Colizzi, University of Rome Tor Vergata, Italy
  • Larry Corey, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
  • Roel Coutinho, University Medical Center Utrecht, The Netherlands
  • Pascale Cossart, Institut Pasteur, France
  • Clyde S. Crumpacker, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
  • Malcolm Dando, University of Bradford, UK
  • Norman Daniels, Harvard School of Public Health
  • Patrice Debré, Hôpital Pitié Salpetrière, Paris
  • Jonathan A. Eisen, University of California, Davis
  • Santiago Elena, CSIC, Spain
  • Max Essex (Lasker laureate '86), Harvard School of Public Health
  • Stanley Falkow (Lasker laureate '08), Stanford University School of Medicine
  • Michael Farzan, Scripps Research Institute, Miami
  • Marcus W. Feldman, Stanford University
  • Neil M. Ferguson, Imperial College, UK
  • Adam Finn, University of Bristol, UK
  • Christophe Fraser, Imperial College, UK
  • Julio Frenk, Harvard School of Public Health
  • José Gatell, Hospital Clínic, University of Barcelona, Spain
  • Gabriela Gomes, Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciencia, Portugal
  • Eric P. Goosby, University of California San Francisco
  • Nathalie Grandvaux, Université de Montréal, Canada
  • Warner C. Greene, Gladstone Institute of Virology and Immunology, University of California San Francisco
  • Jeanne Guillemin, MIT
  • Willem Hanekom, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and University of Cape Town, South Africa
  • Elisa D. Harris, Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland
  • Eric Harvill, Pennsylvania State University
  • Daniel L. Hartl, Harvard University
  • Donald A. Henderson (Presidential Medal of Freedom '02), University of Pittsburgh
  • Martin S. Hirsch, Harvard Medical School
  • Richard Jackson, University of Cambridge
  • Laura H. Kahn, Princeton University
  • Phyllis Kanki, Harvard School of Public Health
  • Lynn Klotz, Center for Arms Control & Non-Proliferation
  • Keith Klugman, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Roberto Kolter, Harvard Medical School
  • Mathilde Krim, Founding Chairman, amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research
  • Leonid Kruglyak, UCLA
  • Richard E. Lenski, Michigan State University
  • Matti Lehtinen, University of Tampere, Finland
  • Bruce R. Levin, Emory University
  • Gunnar Lindahl, Lund University, Sweden
  • W. Ian Lipkin, Columbia University
  • Ian M. Mackay, University of Queensland, Australia
  • Adel A. Mahmoud, Princeton University
  • Rick Malley, Boston Children's Hospital
  • Howard Markel, University of Michigan
  • Robert M. May (former president Royal Society), University of Oxford, UK
  • Mike McCune, University of California, San Francisco
  • Kenneth McIntosh, Boston Children’s Hospital
  • Andrew McMichael, University of Oxford
  • Andreas Meyerhans, ICREA & Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain
  • Julio S. G. Montaner, University of British Columbia
  • Jonathan D. Moreno, University of Pennsylvania
  • Richard Moxon, Oxford University, UK
  • Neal Nathanson, Microbiology, University of Pennsylvania
  • Kathryn Nixdorff, Darmstadt University of Technology, Germany
  • Kate O'Brien, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
  • Paul Offit, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
  • Gérard Orth, Institut Pasteur, France
  • Eli Perencevich, University of Iowa
  • Joshua B. Plotkin, University of Pennsylvania
  • Stanley Plotkin, University of Pennsylvania
  • Peter Piot, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, UK
  • Mark Poznansky, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Andrew Rambaut, University of Edinburgh, UK
  • Johannes Rath, University of Vienna, Austria
  • Andrew Read, Pennsylvania State University
  • Gili Regev-Yochay, Sheba Medical Center, Israel
  • Félix Rey, Institut Pasteur, Paris, France
  • Douglas D. Richman, University of California San Diego
  • Steven L. Salzberg, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
  • Philippe Sansonetti, Institut Pasteur, Paris
  • Mathuram Santosham, Johns Hopkins University
  • Mauro Schechter, Projeto Praca Onze, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • Olivier Schwartz, Institut Pasteur, Paris, France
  • Jeffrey Shaman, Columbia University
  • Kai Simons, Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology & Genetics, Dresden, Germany
  • Stephen C. Stearns, Yale University
  • Tomoko Steen, Georgetown University Medical School
  • John Steinbruner, University of Maryland
  • Bruce Stillman, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
  • Klaus Stöhr, Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics
  • Amalio Telenti, University of Lausanne, Switzerland
  • Paul Turner, Yale University
  • Robert D. Truog, Harvard Medical School
  • Ross Upshur, University of Toronto, Canada
  • Paul Volberding, AIDS Research Institute, University of California San Francisco
  • Mark Wainberg, McGill University, Montreal, Canada
  • Simon Wain-Hobson, Institut Pasteur, France
  • James D. Watson (Nobel laureate '62)
  • David Weiner, University of Pennsylvania
  • Robin Weiss, University College London, UK
  • Hans Wigzell, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
  • Daniel Wikler, Harvard University
  • Claus O. Wilke, The University of Texas at Austin
  • Rüdiger Wolfrum, Max Planck Institute, Germany
  • Priscilla Yang, Harvard Medical School
  • Moshe Yaniv, Institut Pasteur, France
  • Patrick Yeni, Hôpital Bichat and University of Paris 7 Paris, France
  • Jerome A. Zack, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California Los Angeles
Charter Members who signed the statement online:
  • Andrew Noymer, University of California, Irvine
  • Maimuna S. Majumder, MIT
  • Christopher McCabe, University of Alberta, Canada
  • Mike McCormick, Labwatch
  • Nicole E Basta, Princeton University
  • Steven Riley, Imperial College London
  • Ben Ashby, University of Exeter
  • Gautam I Menon, The Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chennai, INDIA
  • Ted Cohen, Harvard School of Public Health
  • Toby Ord, Oxford University
  • Sean O hEigeartaigh, University of Oxford
  • Daniel Dewey, University of Oxford
  • Joann Mead, @JoannJMead
  • Christian Althaus, Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (ISPM), University of Bern, Switzerland
  • Marius Gilbert, Université Libre de Bruxelles
  • Joshua S. Weitz, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Charles N Haas, Drexel University
  • R. Taylor Raborn, Indiana University
  • Amy Greer, University of Guelph
  • Brett Edwards, University of Bath
  • Antoni Trilla, Hospital Clinic - Univ. of Barcelona
  • David S. Fedson, Sergy Haut, France
  • Hortense Gerardo, Lasell College
  • Joseph Baglieri, Barrister & Solicitor
  • Dawn Kubly, Fort Healthcare
  • Charles R. Stack, University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health
  • Lisa Murillo, Los Alamos National Laboratory
  • Anders Sandberg, Oxford University
  • Evan Skowronski, TMG Biosciences
  • Kathleen Gilbert, California Institute of Technology
  • Mukilan D Suresh, SRM University, School of Bioengineering (student)
  • Roberto Anitori, Clark College, WA, USA
  • Andrew Leifer, Princeton University
  • Pankaj Mehta, Boston University
  • Megan Murray, Harvard Medical School
  • Eric S. Starbuck, Department of Health & Nutrition, Save the Children USA
  • Carl T. Bergstrom, Department of Biology, University of Washington
  • Nicola Low, University of Bern, Switzerland
  • Sünje J. Pamp, Technical University of Denmark
  • Andrew Snyder-Beattie, University of Oxford
  • Viktor Müller, Eötvös Loránd University and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest
  • Tami Lieberman, Harvard Medical School
  • Alan Barbour, University of California Irvine
  • Sven Bergstrom, Umea University, Sweden
  • Sophia Roosth, Assistant Professor of the History of Science, Harvard University
  • Sibel Ascioglu, Hacettpe University, Dept. of Infectious Diseases, Turkey
  • Janet D. Stemwedel, San José State University
  • Fernando Baquero, Department of Microbiology, Ramón y Cajal Institute for Health Research (IRYCIS) Madrid, Spain
  • Carlos S. Moreno, Emory University
  • Sarah Otto, University of British Columbia
  • Richard Levins, Harvard School of Public Health
  • Andrew Tatem, University of Southampton
  • Benjamin Kerr, University of Washington
  • A. David Paltiel, Yale School of Public Health / Yale School of Management
  • Rochelle Walensky, Massachusetts General Hospital
  • John W. Jackson, Brigham and Women's Hospital
  • Julie Parsonnet, Infectious Diseases, Stanford University School of Medicine
  • John McGowan, Emory University Rollins School of Public Health
  • John Quackenbush, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard School of Public Health
  • Rafael Canton, Servicio de Microbiologia. Hospital Universitario Ramón y Cajal. Madrid. Spain
  • Jane Kim, Harvard School of Public Health
  • Thomas F O'Brien, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA
  • Simon Levin, Princeton University
  • James Lloyd-Smith, UCLA
  • Andrew Yates, University of Glasgow
  • Richard C. Larson, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Victor DeGruttola, Harvard University
  • Melinda M. Pettigrew, Yale School of Public Health
  • Marc D. Natter, Harvard Medical School
  • Ramanan Laxminarayan, Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy, New Delhi
  • Cynthia Schuck-Paim, Origem Scientifica
  • Emma McBryde, University of Melbourne & Victorian Infectious Diseases Service, Doherty Institute
  • Robin Bush, University of California, Irvine
  • Pieter Trapman, Stockholm University
  • Lumi Viljakainen, University of Oulu
  • Isabelle Magnoli, Université catholique de Louvain
  • Jeremy Van Cleve, Duke University
  • Francisco Dionisio, University of Lisbon
  • Daniel Wilson, University of Oxford
  • Amy Hurford, Memorial University of Newfoundland
  • Sergios-Orestis Kolokotronis, Fordham University
  • Pedro Silva, University of Lisbon, Portugal
  • Oscar E. Gaggiotti, University of St Andrews, UK
  • Richard Edwards, University of New South Wales
  • Emilia Vynnycky, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, UK
  • Martin Kulldorff, Harvard Medical School
  • Erik F. Y. Hom, University of Mississippi
  • John Mekalanos, Harvard Medical School
  • Stephen W. Schaeffer, Pennsylvania State University
  • Christina Davy, Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada
  • Clark Freifeld, Boston Children's Hospital
  • David A Harmin, Harvard Medical School
  • Anne D. Yoder, Duke University
  • Nicholas G Reich, University of Massachusetts - Amherst
  • Gerald Learn, University of Pennsylvania
  • Pleuni Pennings, San Francisco State University
  • Zachary A Szpiech, University of California, San Francisco
  • Stan Finkelstein, MIT/Harvard Medical School
  • Paul Avillach, Harvard Medical School
  • Alain-jacques Valleron, Inserm. Paris, France
  • Ellen L. Simms, University of California, Berkeley
  • Anahi Espindola, University of Idaho
  • Claudio Jose Struchiner, Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, Brazil
  • Jan Medlock, Oregon State University
  • Maarten Vonhof, Western Michigan University
  • Heather Douglas, University of Waterloo
  • Michael Höhle, Department of Mathematics, Stockholm University
  • Joy Scaria, Cornell University
  • Preben Aavitsland, Epidemi, Kristiansand
  • Fernando Gonzalez-Candelas, University of Valencia, Spain
  • Dr. Sameeh Ghazal, King Fahad Medical City
  • William J. Etges, University of Arkansas
  • Sadia Shakoor, Aga Khan University
  • Angela Hancock, Max F. Perutz Labs, University of Vienna
  • Michael Merson, Duke University
  • Donald R. Olson, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
  • Robert Gordon White, Carleton University
  • Paul Schmid-Hempel, ETH Zurich
  • Matt Keeling, University of Warwick
  • Victoria Shaffer, Infection Preventionist; CHWC, Bryan, Ohio
  • Matthew J. Brown, University of Texas at Dallas
  • Joel L. Sachs, University of California - Riverside
  • Jacques Dubochet, University of Lausanne (retired)
  • François-Xavier Weill, Institut Pasteur, Paris, France
  • Rodrigo Angerami, State University of Campinas/UNICAMP
  • Omar Cornejo, Washington State University
  • Wladimir J. Alonso, Origem Scientific Consultancy
  • Jacob-S. Seeler, Institut Pasteur, Paris
  • Sarah Cobey, University of Chicago
  • Joshua Metlay, Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School
  • Barbara E. Giles, Umea University, Sweden
  • Brigitte Autran, University Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris
  • Nicholas S Kelley, University of Minnesota
  • Jean-Michel Guillon, University of Paris Sud, France
  • Jon Zelner, Princeton University, Dept. of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
  • William C. Miller, UNC - Chapel Hill
  • Katia Koelle, Duke University
  • Thomas W. Jeffries, University of Wisconsin - Madison
  • Harry Greenberg, Stanford University
  • Romain Gallet, INRA - Montpellier (France)
  • Allan Hance, INSERM, Paris, France
  • Simon Fellous, INRA - CBGP, France
  • Tatyana Novossiolova, University of Bradford
  • Patricia Baldacci, Institut Pasteur
  • Godwin Wilson, Hamad Medical Corporation, Qatar
  • Ralf Koebnik, Institut de Recherche pour le Développement
  • Elaine Nsoesie, Boston Children's Hospital, Harvard Medical School
  • Nicolas Voirin, Hospices Civils de Lyon
  • Mariet Feltkamp, Leiden University Medical Center
  • Conor Browne, Queen's University Belfast
  • Quentin Sattentau, University of Oxford
  • Michael Costa, Abt Associates
  • Jonathan A. Cooper, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Resarch Center
  • Andrew Lakoff, University of Southern California
  • Peter V. Markov, Institut Pasteur
  • Doug Cyr
  • bracha rager, faculty of health sciences, ben gurion univ. Israel
  • Mark Eisler, University of Bristol
  • Miles Davenport, UNSW Australia
All affiliations are for purposes of identification only and do not imply any institutional endorsement