Research Code of Conduct

Biosafety and Biosecurity

Dual use research of concern (DURC) comprises legitimate studies of viral pathogens that could be appropriated for malicious purposes and present a significant threat to public health and safety, agriculture, the environment, and national security. Gain-of-function research is a type of DURC defined as experiments that can be reasonably anticipated to produce viruses with enhanced transmissibility and/or pathogenicity in human populations. Gain-of-function research is uncommon, and CoVaRR-Net researchers do not intentionally design these studies unless there are no other alternatives for obtaining crucial data with direct relevance to public health. Currently, no gain-of-function research is being conducted by CoVaRR-Net investigators.

Consistent with CoVaRR-Net’s mission, we take biosecurity and biosafety extremely seriously and prioritize strict compliance with all relevant Canadian biosecurity practices. All SARS-CoV-2 research is conducted according to best practices established by the Human Pathogens and Toxins Act and the Canadian Biosafety Standard and Guidelines, under the oversight of federal and provincial authorities and the institutional biosafety committees of CoVaRR-Net institutions and partners.

In addition, CoVaRR-Net has put additional safeguards in place to ensure biosafety practices that exceed current standards. Any proposed research that potentially constitutes DURC or incidentally results in a gain-of-function will be reviewed by the National Microbiological Laboratory (NML) in Winnipeg, Manitoba. This ensures an additional layer of independent oversight and provides further opportunities for risk mitigation. The full CoVaRR-Net Executive Committee will then democratically make a final decision, based on the recommendations of the NML. Importantly, this process will be fully open, transparent, and accessible to the public.