A door that was shut three years ago has been opened, though how far is unclear: In October 2014, the feds put a moratorium on funding studies on germs that could be altered to cause pandemics, or enhanced potential pandemic pathogens. On Tuesday, the National Institutes of Health announced that pause is over—though funding will only be awarded to research that a government scientific panel deems worth the risk. The New York Times
details the new framework
for determining those proposals that pass muster. Researchers will have to, among other things: prove their lab is secure; be working on a virus that could imperil our health; end up with actionable knowledge (say, that would enable the creation of a vaccine); and establish there's no safer way to get at that knowledge. "We see this as a rigorous policy," says NIH head Dr. Francis Collins.