Dual Use Research of Concern

Dual Use Research of Concern (DURC) is life sciences research that, based on current understanding, can be reasonably anticipated to provide knowledge, information, products, or technologies that could be directly misapplied to pose a significant threat with broad potential consequences to public health and safety, agricultural crops and other plants, animals, the environment, material, or national security (United States Government Policy for Oversight of Life Sciences Dual Use Research of Concern​).​

DURC is overseen by Penn State's Intsitutional Review Entity (IRE). The general purpose of the IRE is to preserve the benefits of DURC while minimizing the risks of misuse of the knowledge, information, products, or technologies provided by such research. The Office for Research Protections (ORP) is responsible for coordinating DURC reviews and approvals for all University campuses and colleges except for the College of Medicine. The Office of the Vice Dean for Research is responsible for coordinating DURC reviews and approvals at the College of Medicine.

DURC is a subset of life sciences research, involving seven categories of experiments and 15 agents, that poses the greatest risk of deliberate misuse. Before receipt of one or more of the following 15 select agents and toxins, Penn State researchers must have IRE approval. See Policy RP10 - Dual Use Research of Concern for more details.


  • Avian influenza virus (highly pathogenic)
  • Bacillus anthracis
  • Botulinum neurotoxin (any quantity)
  • Burkholderia mallei
  • Burkholderia pseudomallei
  • Ebola virus
  • Foot-and-mouth disease virus
  • Francisella tularensis
  • Marburg virus
  • Reconstructed 1918 Influenza virus
  • Rinderpest virus
  • Toxin-producing strains of Clostridium botulinum
  • Variola major virus
  • Variola minor virus
  • Yersinia pestis



DURC oversight is required for research that:

  • Enhances the harmful consequences of the agent or toxin
  • Disrupts immunity or the effectiveness of an immunization against the agent or toxin without clinical and/or agricultural justification
  • Confers to the agent or toxin resistance to clinically and/or agriculturally useful prophylactic or therapeutic interventions against that agent or toxin or facilitates their ability to evade detection methodologies
  • Increases the stability, transmissibility, or the ability to disseminate the agent or toxin
  • Alters the host range or tropism of the agent or toxin
  • Enhances the susceptibility of a host population to the agent or toxin
  • Generates or reconstitutes an eradicated or extinct agent or toxin listed abov

Required Approvals

To begin the IRE approval process, complete the DURC Application and send it to ORP-Biosafety@psu.edu. Research involving the select agents or toxins will likely also require additional separate compliance review and approval, such as by the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC), the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), and/or Penn State Export Compliance. Complete any of these necessary submissions at the time of your DURC application.