Sunday, June 10, 2012

H5N1 panel addresses campus concerns

Daily Cardinal June 08, 2012

Incoming students may be familiar with the controversy surrounding two H5N1 influenza (‘bird flu’) research papers, including that from the laboratory of UW-Madison Professor Yoshihiro Kawaoka. Recently, Kawaoka joined other UW-Madison representatives for an open conversation with the campus community.

Entitled “Biomedical Research and National Security: Learning from the H5N1 Story,” the meeting took place May 31, at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery on campus.

The event included talks from each of three UW-Madison professors including Kawaoka, Associate Dean of Research Policy William Mellon and bioethicist Pilar Ossorio, followed by a Q&A session for interaction with attendees.

As a response to public concerns, the meeting addressed a wide range of biosafety and bioethics topics....

I wondered why I hadn't seen anything about this meeting, so I looked here and found an announcement posted the day before the event. I also Googled the event using the title and Kawaoka. The Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery/Morgridge Institute for Research posted an announcement the day before the event as well and noted that "The session will not be filmed or webcast." The only report on the event seems to be the article above, published a week after the event in one of the two school newspapers.

I finally found an announcement on the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery blog from 2 in the afternoon on May 29, almost exactly two days before the event. It says that the event was open to the public, but I wonder how they let people know that? Maybe that post was the extent of their public advertising?

This event, put on "as a response to public concerns" wasn't meant for the public, apparently. Maybe the organizers were concerned about questions that might have been asked in public by people more informed than incoming students about biosafety and the ethics surrounding dangerous research at the university.

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