Jerome Friedman & Phillip Sharp, “Defining the Boundaries: Homeland Security and Its Impact on Scientific Research” - Ford/MIT Nobel Laureate Lecture Series
GRAY: Good afternoon. My name is Paul Gray and it is my privilege to welcome all of you here on this rainy afternoon to Kresge Auditorium and also to welcome the MIT folks at the Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington who are watching live, and people, perhaps, all over the world who are maybe watching live on the internet. I would like to thank the Ford Motor Company for its sponsorship of these Nobel Laureate lectures, presentations, panels, now in their fourth year.
This is the sixth lecture in that series. The others are listed in your program book. And with the addition today of professors Friedman and Sharp, these programs have brought 10 Nobel laureates to this stage. Not all to this stage, one over in building 26, seven of whom are members of the MIT faculty. Following the lecture in the lobby here in Kresge, there will be a reception. And we hope you will join us for that.
The title this afternoon is Defining the Boundaries-- Homeland Security And Its Impact on Scientific Research. The panel and the question period afterwards will be moderated by President Charles Vest, 15th president of MIT, who has been deeply involved himself in these issues through his service on the President's Council of Advisors in Science and Technology and other Washington activities. President Vest?
VEST: Thank you, Paul, and good afternoon. The topic of the relationship of Homeland Security to scientific research and education in this country has been of great interest to the educational and research community during the last two years. Fundamentally, we have been concerned about two sets of issues-- restrictions on people, visas for international students and scholars, the [? Sevas ?] computer system for information tracking, and the access of students to so-called sensitive areas of study, and also restrictions on scientific and research information and materials-- the use of phrases like sensitive but not classified and something called select agents that you will be hearing more about.
The point is that we need to achieve both security and to adhere to our basic American values of openness. We need to preserve the processes by which the scientific community carries out its work to generate new knowledge for humankind. During this period, MIT has sought to play a positive role in furthering dialogue and sound policymaking. And that's precisely why we're gathered here today.
Now, how did all this come about? Let me begin with a bit of chronology. In May of 2001, springtime, May of 2001, the bipartisan Hart-Rudman Commission on National Security in the 21st Century prophetically warned, "attacks against American citizens on American soil, possibly causing heavy casualties, are likely over the next quarter century." Equally important, this Commission stated, "second only to a weapon of mass destruction detonating in an American city, we can think of nothing more dangerous than a failure to manage properly science, technology, and education for the common good over the next quarter century."
Prior to 2001, the university research community had faced a number of complicated issues about export control of scientific research that had limited certain international engagement in basic research involving the use of satellites and high performance computing. In August of 2001, MIT began to form an ad hoc faculty committee, chaired by Professor Sheila [? Woodknoll ?] to review MIT's policies and principles regarding openness of research, and especially our policy that no classified research can be conducted on our campus.
Then, as we all know, on September 11, 2001, 3,000 innocent people died in the murderous attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and in the countryside of Pennsylvania. The federal government thus had thrust upon it a daunting responsibility to protect the lives of people in the United States, but to do so within a new complicated environment, far different from that of the Cold War years, during which our national defense had largely been shaped.
Protecting us is, of course, a fundamental responsibility of our federal government. And this new world of homeland and international security presented opportunities to the research university community to serve through security-related research and development activities. MIT is engaged in this kind of service in a variety of ways. But the academic community also realized very quickly that reactions to these all-too-real dangers would inevitably pose conflicts with some of our most deeply-held values, and indeed, with the fundamental methodology of science.
We anticipated that immigration policy and access of international students and scholars to our campuses and to our scientific meetings would come into question. We anticipated restrictions on publication and open scientific dialogue about topics that could be thought of to be of potential use by terrorists. And we worry that safeguards and restrictions on the use in our laboratories of potentially dangerous materials, especially biological agents, would be established in ways that might not be as thoughtful as possible.
Indeed, each of these concerns became real in the months following 9/11. The passage of the Patriot Act in late October 2001 affected both immigration policy and raised the issue of limited access to what were termed sensitive areas of study in our universities. International students, scholars, and visitors to the US were subjected to new reviews, interviews, delays, and more frequent denials of visas. Ill-defined terms like sensitive but unclassified more frequently entered research policy and research contracts.
The editors of a large group of important journals in the life sciences established a self-policing mechanism to restrict publication of information that might be key to the development of unusually dangerous mechanisms of bioterrorism. Protocols for researchers to control the availability of and access to particularly dangerous substances termed select agents were put in place. So the issue became, how can we be both secure and open? And the goal became the establishment of sound federal policy.
At MIT, we believe that openness of our campus to students, scholars, and faculty from all over the world is one of our greatest strengths, and indeed, is at the heart of the phenomenal success of the American research university. We also believe that scientific progress depends on open international dialogue, publication of data, repetition and verification of research results. And we believe that we have a responsibility to apply our talents and our expertise to keep the nation and world secure.
It is essential that we balance these interests. And I, for one, believe that it is possible to do so, but only if we approach it with great care. MIT, often working together with other universities, has pursued a three-part agenda. It consists of speaking out forcefully on threats to our openness, reaffirming, articulating, and living by our basic principles, and engaging in productive dialogue with federal policymakers to solve problems together. As we gather here today, these issues are still very much in play. And we have the privilege of hearing two of MIT's most distinguished faculty members think aloud about them.
Jerry Friedman, 1990 Nobel Laureate in physics, former director of our laboratory for nuclear science, former head of our Department of Physics, former president of the American Physical Society, and-- and very important to today's discussion-- Professor Friedman was a member of MIT's ad hoc faculty committee on access to and disclosure of scientific information. Professor Friedman will be our first speaker. He will be followed by Phil Sharp. Professor Phillip Sharp was awarded the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine in 1993. Phil is a former director of our Center for Cancer Research, the former head of the MIT biology department. And he is the founding director of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research.
Phil is a frequent high-level advisor on science and medical care policy in Washington. And as I think you will learn during the afternoon, perhaps the most complex set of issues that we have to face as a scientific community are those revolving around the life sciences and bioterrorism. So with no further introduction, professors Friedman and Sharp will speak to us. Following that, we will open up for a dialogue with all of you.
FRIEDMAN: Thank you, Chuck, for your excellent introduction. It's a great pleasure to be here today to speak on this important topic. The horrific events of September 11 changed the American landscape in many ways. These events have clearly demonstrated that we face a continuing threat of terrorism at home and abroad. Just as efforts to defend against terrorism have caused some erosion of our civil liberties, they have also put pressures on the free flow of scientific information. In times of threat or war, our nation has always had to strike a balance between the free exchange of information and secrecy in order to prevent sensitive information from being exploited by our enemies.
Regulating the disclosure of certain types of information is certainly necessary. However, excessive regulation of the flow of scientific and technological information is detrimental to our national interest. It will damage research efforts that could enhance our national security, as well as stifle work that could improve our people's health, and strengthen our economy. How to establish the proper balance is an issue of crucial importance to the academic community.
There's also the issue of how the academic community can best contribute to the war on terrorism and do this without inviting an atmosphere of secrecy on campus that could jeopardize the openness in research and education that has served us so well. There's a long history of universities providing service to the nation in times of need. A notable example of this was the development of the first self-sustaining chain reaction on the campus of the University of Chicago during World War II, a development that was essential to the completion of the Manhattan Project.
During this period, MIT also made crucial contributions to the war effort. The most prominent of these was the radiation laboratory which was set up on the MIT campus with the objective of developing radar systems for aircraft, ships, and antiaircraft guns. MIT had been chosen as a site for this laboratory because microwave research was already underway on campus. By the end of the war, the laboratory occupied 15 acres of office space, had a staff of nearly 4,000, an annual budget of $13 million, and had produced over 100 different radar systems and devices.
After the war, the radiation laboratory was quickly dismantled and its basic research component became MIT's research laboratory for electronics. The University of Chicago project and the radiation laboratory were secure facilities where all work was classified as secret. Staff members were investigated by the FBI before they were granted security clearance, and were then required to sign secrecy agreements. Visitors to these facilities were carefully monitored.
The events of September 11 forcefully told us that we are now engaged in a new type of war. And it is clear that the academic community can again provide valuable service to the nation. New efforts in science and technology are needed to help defend our nation against terrorism. But how is this best done? Will the modes used for such participation during World War II serve us well in the future?
The MIT administration took the lead in trying to develop answers for MIT. An ad hoc committee, the Committee on the Access To and Disclosure Of Scientific Information was formed and was charged to determine if current policies provide adequate guidance to consider MIT's role in classified research in the context of the 21st century. The committee was chaired by Professor Sheila [? Whitnole. ?] The other members were Professors Vincent [? Chan, ?] Stephen Graves, [? Harveys, ?] [? Zipolski, ?] and myself.
The report of this committee, titled "In the Public Interest," was issued on May 15, 2002. Some of its major conclusions are given in the following quote. "MIT remains committed to a strong role of public service and, as appropriate, to expanding the scope of that service. Such an expansion can include facilitating faculty members to serve the nation's national security needs within the framework laid out in our report. However, after examining the implications from the conduct of classified research on campus, we conclude that retaining an open research environment with free flow of research results and information on the MIT campus is the best way for MIT to fulfill its public service responsibility.
Therefore, we recommend that no classified research should be carried out on campus, that no student-- graduate or undergraduate-- should be required to have security clearance to perform thesis research, and that no research should be carried out in areas requiring access to classified materials," unquote. The reason for this last recommendation is clear. Directing a student to do classified work for a thesis project would do the student a great disservice. Such a student would not be able to share research results with the general scientific community, and thus would be deprived of scientific feedback, and also the use of this research work to obtain a job.
Imagine a student talking to a prospective employer and saying, I'm sorry, but I can't tell you what I did for my thesis. That is not a good recipe for career advancement. Classified research is governed by laws and regulations that would require that a dual research and management system be set up on campus if such research were embedded in campus units. This partitioning of activities would severely reduce the accessibility of personnel engaged in classified research from involvement with the community at large, including peer interactions, student involvement, departmental and laboratory views, and promotion considerations.
There also would be security restrictions against foreign visitors and all uncleared faculty, students, and staff that would deny them access to areas where classified research is done. This would inevitably create two separate classes of individuals on campus. There are a number of other undesirable ramifications of classified research on campus. But unfortunately, I don't have time to discuss them today. As in the past, our academic community has a special responsibility to serve the nation in time of threat.
When classified work is involved in these efforts, it should be separated and sequestered in facilities that are removed from the main MIT campus. And no classified work should be extended to campus. The committee concluded that there are several organizations that can provide access to classified facilities to enable MIT to carry out the classified portions of their research. The most prominent of these is MIT's Lincoln Laboratory, but several other organizations could also provide such access.
The committee also addressed the possibility of a national emergency during which the nation requires a rapid near-term access to specialized on-campus facilities and expertise. Examples of this would be the need for forensic analysis of biological materials, materials preparation, and the use of other facilities and expertise for some significant national need other than research. Even if this type of assistance requires restricted access and special procedures, the committee recommended that MIT should make such expertise available for a short-time response with the requirement of a time-dependent sunset clause.
The committee came to these conclusions on the basis of two sets of principles-- first, the values which we believe govern the operation of MIT or any other institute of learning and research, and second, the great importance of our education and science enterprises to the future of our nation. The fundamental mission of MIT rests upon four values-- unfettered transmission of knowledge through educational activities, creation of new knowledge through research and other scholarly activities, service to the nation, and service to humanity.
To fulfill its mission, we believe that MIT must have an open intellectual environment. Education and scholarship are best served through the unconstrained sharing of information and by creating the opportunities for free and open communication. Such an environment enables students to be exposed to the most current knowledge. It allows scholars to build upon each other's work. Peer evaluation and research methods and findings can only result from open sharing and debate within the scientific community.
These are crucial mechanisms to ensure the continued quality and progress of science. The essential point is that the well-being of our nation will often be damaged if education, science, and technology suffer as a result of any practice that indiscriminately discourages or limits the open exchange of ideas and information. A government report issued a few years ago, discussed by Professor Vest, examined the emergent global security environment. This report, titled New World Coming, American Security in the 21st Century, issued in 1999 by the Hart-Rudman Commission, was prophetic about American vulnerability to terrorist attacks.
In their examination of current threats to national security, the Hart-Rudman Commission concluded-- and this is a different quote from the ones that Professor Vest gave-- the inadequacies of our systems, quote-- "The inadequacies of our systems of research and education pose a greater threat to US national security than any potential conventional war we might imagine." Openness enables MIT to attract, educate, and benefit from the best students, faculty, and staff from around the world.
Over the course of many years, immigrant scientists, as well as foreign visitors and students, have contributed enormously to the American educational and scientific enterprises. They have enriched our knowledge and culture, promoted the growth of our economy, and improved the quality of our lives. Professor Alice [? Gass, ?] Vice President for Research at MIT, has assembled some statistics that reflect the importance of foreign born individuals in our education and research enterprises. For example, 41% of engineering graduate students and 39% of mathematics and computer science graduate students in the United States are international. And large fractions of international scholars are also seen in the sciences.
Roughly half of these students remain in the United States and contribute significantly to our economy and education and research efforts. Nearly 40% of US engineering faculty and more than 1/3 of US Nobel laureates are foreign-born. Additionally, nearly half of the scientific and medical professionals at the National Institutes of Health are foreign nationals. In these difficult times, the Institute should not be forced to make judgments about which foreign nationals can have access to which courses, research, and publications.
Once a visa is granted, foreign nationals should have free access to all education and research programs on campus. If as a result of the war on terrorism the government enacts burdensome regulations involving students and scholars from abroad, it will hinder our ability to recruit the best and the brightest international students and scholars. This will severely damage our productivity in leadership in science and technology. It is ironic that such overzealous measures to protect the nation will actually weaken our security because of their adverse effects on research and education.
There are now new threats to openness on campus. As a result of recent legislation, there are new restrictions that are being placed on our academic research that fall outside of the category of classification. Following the September 11 events, Congress passed the USA Patriot Act, which among its many directives prohibits restricted persons from possessing, receiving, shipping, or transporting about 40 specified biological agents designated as select agents.
The Patriot Act defines restricted individuals as certain foreign nationals in addition to certain categories of US citizens. These categories comprise citizens who have been dishonorably discharged, indicted, or convicted of certain crimes, who are illegal drug users, or who have had mental illness. As of now, very few laboratories at MIT utilize select agents in research. However, the Secretary of Health and Human Services has the statutory power to expand that list of select agents. And this is likely to happen.
The expanded list could have a much greater impact on MIT, particularly on areas that do biological research. Additional training, security, and physical restrictions on access to facilities will be required to comply with the act. And because of such restrictions, research involving select agents may have to be moved off campus. The position that biologists find themselves in today is quite different from that of physicists during the Second World War.
In the development of nuclear weapons, a clear separation could be made between research that was and was not related to national security. The investigation of fissionable nuclei was deemed critical to national security and classified. But research in other areas of nuclear physics was not. In the years prior to the Manhattan Project, ally physicist engaged in self-censorship by not publishing research on uranium, although they discussed the results privately.
In contrast, such a clear separation is difficult to make in biomedical research. Research results from almost any basic area of molecular biology has the potential of being used for bioterrorism. This has led to calls for biologists to self-censor the publication of their work. It has also led to the decision of the editors of more than 20 leading scientific journals to use as one of the criteria for accepting or rejecting an article the question of whether its publication poses a threat to national security.
These are important issues that I am sure Professor Sharp will address. Clearly, it is not an easy matter to establish the proper boundaries between scientific openness and the restrictions needed to enhance security. This critical issue calls for renewed dialogue between the science and technology communities and policymakers. Only through such collaboration can sensible policies be developed.
I would like to conclude with a remark by John [? Hamry, ?] a former Deputy Secretary of Defense. He said, quote, if the scientific community doesn't take the lead in dealing with the reality of the bioterrorist threat, the security community will take over and do the job in ways that are likely to be wrong, unquote. This is the very important challenge that the scientific community faces. Thank you.
SHARP: It's a [AUDIO OUT]. --old friends and people who have spoken very wisely today from the podium about the issue of national security. I want to discuss these issues and related topics from the perspective of biological science and as a member of the MIT community. In addition, we as scientists and engineers who collectively do novel science through the discovery of new relationships and the solving problems by the application of new and developing new engineering principles have a special responsibility to enter into the discussion of how these advances are to be used by society.
Even how society can protect itself from these new advances. And the latter issue is more relevant for the topic today. I want to begin by outlining the three points I hope to comment on and justify. One, biological scientists do not know how to make novel bio weapons. Two, infection by natural pathogens is a much bigger threat than bioterrorism. And three, in developing national security, we should be sensitive not to damage public health systems which protect us from both natural infections and potential attacks by bioterrorism.
First, speaking about bioweapons, we do not have to fear a lot, in my opinion, of a terrorist using the principles of modern biology to make a significant better pathogen than already exists in nature. There may be a few possible simple exceptions to this statement, perhaps introducing drug resistance into a bacteria or fungi to make it resistance to treatment by a known antibiotic. However, even this would change the treatment part of containing an attack. But it would not basically change the nature of the infectious process. And therefore, probably the impact of the process.
Nature has created much better infectious diseases than current science can design. In it it is these natural agents that we should be concerned about as potential terrorist agents. Let me illustrate how difficult it might be to develop a bioterrorist weapon. For terrorists to try to create a new weapon, they would immediately encounter two major problems. First is our ignorance of the necessary properties to engineer into an agent to make it a bio weapon. We simply do not understand the infectious process well enough, nor how the immune system responds to infections, nor how the characteristics of transmission from one person to another is necessary to make a contagious infection to design from first principles any new bio weapon.
In addition to this lack of knowledge, there is a major experimental challenge. How can one test a new engineered agent to be a bio weapon? The only way that you could do this is to do a field test, the equivalent of a clinical trial for a drug. Release the agent under appropriate conditions and see what the effect would be. This would seem to be impossible to do without being detected, thus we have to worry about the potential use of known pathogens as terrorist agents. These could be agents as smallpox or anthrax or Ebola, or perhaps even polio virus, if, perchance, we stop vaccinating against this virus in the general public.
The second point I'd like to make is that public health risks from current infectious agents are significantly greater than any potential risk from in a terrorist attack with a biological agent. Let me illustrate this. It is difficult to comprehend that over the past 20 years-- and it was only 20 years ago when HIV was identified as an infectious agent that appeared in certain population centers-- it's only 20 years ago that agent appeared. 20 million people have died from HIV infection.
40 million people are infected by HIV today. Thus, the death toll from this type of natural infection far exceeds what we're going to see, in my opinion, from any new bioweapon. You can have a similar question. Imagine what death toll might be like if the SARS virus, which appeared last year in the winter, had spread worldwide. The death rate in certain regions of the world from the individuals who are infected by this virus within a period of four to five weeks or so, or a couple of months, was approximately 10% of all infected people.
Spread of SARS to population centers in this country would have been both a health and an economic disaster. We could continue on this record of natural infections that cause widespread mortality. One of the major concerns for the biological community and the infectious disease community is the possible reemergence of a pandemic flu, such as that appeared in 1919 across the world. This would cause literally millions of deaths in this country in a period of a year.
I have not mentioned other known pathogens, such as malaria as infectious disease, that take a constant death toll. But these natural infections are a much greater risk, in my opinion, than any risk we face from a bioweapon. In comparison to this disease total caused by natural pathogens, what's the record of terrorists attacked by biological agents? And I use the word terrorist here either as a deranged individual or a group of people or a nation that's involved in the attack.
In recent times, I can think of the following. Five people died from the anthrax being mailed-- sent through the public mail. In fact, of most of my biological friends, we were amazed that only five people died from anthrax being sent through the mail. We had the impression that it was a much greater infectious agent than that. Several years ago, anthrax was-- decades ago-- anthrax was released from weapons factories in the Soviet Union and tens more people died from that release.
The most damaging example of biological warfare, if you want to call it that, or it should be called, of which I'm aware is a transfer of infectious diseases such as measles and smallpox from European settlers to indigenous populations across North America and in other parts of the world. The lesson from this latter example, which we need to take seriously, is the deliberate spreading of natural pathogens, which can cause widespread death and chaos, is a much bigger concern than any newly created bio weapon that I can contemplate.
Assuming that the first two points are true, then we should use special precautions in making policies relative to Homeland Security and biological agents so as not to impair the strong public health community which protects us against natural infections. This public health community includes educated physicians, infectious disease clinicians, officials responsible for clean air, water, and food. It also includes a Center for Disease Control, CDC, NIH, National Institute of Health, and the agencies of the state governments.
Similarly, any new Homeland Security policy should be particularly careful not to impede research and education concerning how infectious disease spreads-- infectious agent spreads and causes disease. The same research community and strong public health community that protects us from ongoing infections is the first that would detect a terrorist attack and be responsible, as well, for treating people who were infected by that attack. So how could policy by Homeland Security and the administration decrease our public health capabilities and impede research? First would be if resources were withdrawn from training and facilities important for control and treatment of diseases in the general public.
The case for expanding resources for control of infectious disease has recently been made by a report from the Institute of Medicine. Among the editors of this report is Josh Letterman, Josh [? Letterberg, ?] the previous president of the Rockefeller University, and a Nobel Laureate in medicine. Josh has been concerned about these issues from some time and the report makes a particularly strong recommendation that the US needs to work with other countries, including those with developing economies, to gain better control of global threats of infectious disease.
With a rapid and relatively inexpensive travel which is available today, any new infectious agent which appears anywhere in the world can be an infectious agent in this country in periods of an hour. Another possible negative impact of Homeland Security on our capability to deal with infectious agents would be to implement policies which inhibit research and education in this area. Here there are some dangers, and Jerry Friedman has commented on those, from actions that are being discussed.
The vitality of research depends critically upon open discussions and publications. A potential criticism of this necessary openness is the concern that new research might inform terrorists how to modify or use biological agents in a terrorist attack. There are two examples of such research which I would like to illustrate for you. It was discovered a few years ago in the course of a research program that insertion of an immune gene, the interleukin 4 gene, a human gene, into the genome of a mouse pox virus-- this is a virus of the same family of smallpox, but for a mouse-- resulted in a virus which suppressed the host animal's immune system, making the virus highly lethal. So the virus killed the animal much more rapidly.
If this was generally true for all pox viruses, and/or for all viruses, it could be a method of creating a more lethal pathogen for man. However, it is not clear that a lethal virus would be a good bioweapon. Lethal viruses are generally not good infectious viruses, good infectious diseases, because they kill the host, and therefore do not transmit from organism to organism. But this is somewhat beside the point.
The question is, should the paper be published as a result that could potentially indicate how to make a more lethal bioweapon? I would argue that the risk of this publication leading to more biological weapons, or more effective, as I've illustrated before, is very small. Alternatively, these results could help form the basis of a more complete understanding of the process of the human immune response to viruses. And that could lead to very much more effective vaccines and treatments.
Now the resolution of this was that this paper was published. There has been some discussion that one should publish such papers without including the experimental details of how to do the manipulations that give rise to the results. And this type of discussion has been basically rejected by the scientific community because if you do not include the details of how to duplicate an experiment in a publication, you cannot proceed in scientific progression.
Another example is a paper published last year in Science describing how to synthesize the genome of polio virus to make an infectious agent. The possibility that a terrorist might learn how, from this paper, to construct the genome of an infectious virus led a congressman to call for an investigation and call for censoring of the publication. This uproar was a little surprising to many members of the scientific community because Dave [? Baldebar ?] here at MIT had reported the same experiment 20 years before when he first cloned the genome of polio virus in the Center for Cancer Research and determined that you could add a DNA to the cell and make an RNA virus replicate. Thus, not publishing this paper would have been of little consequence, in my opinion.
But the broader question is relevant. Should we restrict research on the analysis of viral genome sequence and structure because it might enable a terrorist to make a virus? The answer is a responding no in my opinion, because this is the heart of modern biological research. Without the analysis of viral genomes, we would seriously compromise-- very seriously compromise-- the possibility of developing vaccines and diagnostic treatment.
The scientific community is currently debating where there should be restrictions imposed by the community itself on results relevant to bioterrorism. As Jerry mentioned, there was a meeting at the National Academy of Science in which editors of most of the major journals agreed that there would be an overview of manuscripts relevant to bioterrorism and censorship of those manuscripts which was considered potentially enabling bioterrorism.
As far as I'm aware, this is the second example of self-censorship by the biological community. The first was a moratorium in the '70s on doing and describing or doing specifically genetic engineering experiments until we understood how to handle the recombinant DNA revolution that was ongoing. An indication of the scale of this review and publication comes from results that have been published from the American Society of Microbiology, a society that publishes most of the journals in infectious disease.
They've examined 14,000 papers published in 201 and 202. 224 were tagged as potentially sensitive. And two papers were withdrawn from publication. In one case, the authors withdrew the publication. In the other case, the paper was modified to delete the offending material. There is soon to be released from the National Academy a report on the question of how to assure that research will not be published which will aid terrorism. The recommendations in this report have not been released, but scientists at MIT are reassured by the fact that Jerry Fink, the previous director of the Whitehead Institute and a professor at MIT is chairing the committee and is preparing with his colleagues the report.
Now, I believe that some form of self censorship, as unpleasant as it might be to install, would be preferable by far from censorship demanded by federal law. The latter would become highly political and difficult to change as knowledge advances. An agreement among scientists to be aware of the problems of bioterrorism and its potential and to not unwittingly aid it would seem appropriate and reassuring to the public, which supports our research.
I suspect that this will be a policy that will evolve. However, we will have to wait as the events unfold. As I mentioned earlier, the major concern in developing rules to reduce the risk of bioterrorism is not to damage research which will protect the public from future infections, natural infections. Now, one way to inflict such damage to such research is to make the area of research of study so complicated and unappealing that scientists will choose to work on other areas. Declaring research on certain agents, select agents, as sensitive or restricted, as Professor Friedman mentioned, would make such research unattractive.
There is a list of about 20 agents that have been identified in this class. None of those agents, as far as I'm aware, are under investigation here at MIT. However, if this list were expanded, it could encompass many experimental agents such as polio, which we have used many times in the lab, and many other viruses that we use in contemporary research in very important ways and impact on ongoing and important research, both here and around the world.
Finally, the gist of my comments relative to Homeland Security efforts to reduce the risk of biological terrorism is for the agency to work with the community to create procedures and policies that are potentially effective and do not reduce our capabilities in public health and research. A simple way of stating this is to put in place policies that can be effective, but do no harm to ongoing activities in these areas. The second general conclusion is that any future biological attack will probably involve the distribution of a known pathogen. Controlling access to these agents and the technologies necessary to convert them into weapons is very reasonable.
The key here is to control activities with the intent to create bioweapons and/or attack using an infectious agent. Implementing policies and procedures which accomplish this will be difficult for both the scientific community and others. And we cannot be assured of complete protection. There is no such thing as complete protection in this world. The best defense will probably come from a global effort to, one, detect and control new emerging infections, two, gain intelligence about the activities concerning potential bio weapons in other parts of the world, and three, to assure the open dissemination of knowledge about biological science.
This country should expand the resources it commits to global health and international research. And I think this would make us all more safe than we are today. Thank you.
VEST: I want to thank Professors Friedman and Sharp very much for these deeply thoughtful as well as provocative presentations. We are now going to take questions from the audience for the next 30 or 40 minutes. There are microphones on stands in each of the two center aisles. And I would ask that you step up to those microphones. And those of you who have questions to ask, begin to form a line behind them.
I also would like to ask that as we get into this you restrict the length of your questions to about a minute so that they can be well-focused and give our two colleagues an opportunity to answer them. So we have the first question over here, please.
VEST: We can't hear you yet.
AUDIENCE: Hello. My question to Prof Friedman, who I enjoy your intellectual scholarship, is this. Considering that there is a lot of secrecy in the industry to protect IPs, and this is for corporate gains, why shouldn't government engage in secrecy now to protect citizens? In as much as I don't agree with this, what do you say that we disagree with industry doing this and the government not going that? Thank you.
FRIEDMAN: Do you know what the question was?
VEST: Let me try to paraphrase the question. I believe the question is that you've spoken eloquently about the need for openness when the issue is with the government, but there are analogous issues with industry where there are attempts to constrain the flow of information in order to protect intellectual property. Is that fair enough? And how do you view these two things?
FRIEDMAN: It's a very-- I thank you for the question. I'm sorry I didn't quite hear it the first time. That's a very good question. MIT has a policy that all research work done on campus must be published. It cannot be withheld. And any agreement with an industrial corporation for sponsored research has in it that such work cannot be impeded from publication. Now, there is one proviso, namely there can be a 30 to 60 day delay while the company decides whether it wants to apply for a patent. But after that period is over, that work is published and it can be disclosed in all its aspects and no proprietary information can be taken out of it. Yes, ma'am.
AUDIENCE: The current administration doesn't have a very good record in listening to scientists, an example being global warming, stem cell research. Oftentimes, the majority opinion of the scientific community is not being listened to. What assurances can we have that the administration or Washington will be listening to the scientists in regard to these issues of Homeland Security and the best approaches?
FRIEDMAN: Well, you know, there can be no assurances. I think all the scientific community can do is try to organize as much as it can to get a unified point of view and speak with a unified voice and try to get as much pressure on the government to adopt sensible policies as possible. I think there is not much more that one can do. But I think the attitude that they may not listen is not sufficient to stop us from trying because otherwise, one doesn't accomplish anything. So I think one has to work harder.
AUDIENCE: Thank you. Hi. I'm with the lab for computer science here at MIT. In my field, this came up about 10 years ago when the government was trying to regulate the field of cryptography and the sale of encryption programs. And one of the issues that came up then is we said, if we stop doing this as an industry, the rest of the world will catch up, will surpass the US. And then we'll be faced with a problem where we actually have technology that's not as good as the rest of the world. And the response from the government at the time was, what we need is some kind of delay. We just need to sort of stay ahead of the public knowledge that's out there. Do you think there's some similarity here? And if so, what would be your response to that, to the idea of delaying research before it reaches the public?
SHARP: Let me try that.
VEST: OK, sure.
SHARP: I think there's maybe a different-- but I doubt it-- response from computer science as there is from biological science. One never knows when one's engaged in research where the important insights are going to come from and how they are stimulated in the individual's head. And therefore, when you start talking about significant delays or restricting information, you are, by that very act, putting yourself at a disadvantage, either as a country or an individual, in staying abreast of the absolute forefront of the field.
In addition, you certainly do send away every one of the brightest stars who can come into the field and change the field. So I think this is a policy that doesn't work. It only puts you at a great disadvantage. And slight delays are still delays and important delays. The other thing I would say about biological science, though I believe in some areas of biological science we, in this community, in this country, are abreast of the very forefront of that area, in infectious diseases, we are probably just about comparable to many other European, in particular, communities in terms of science.
So I think we need, as I commented, to engage in a global activity in this. I can't see delaying as being effective in doing anything. [? Jerry? ?]
FRIEDMAN: Well, I think the issue here is that unless you have an international approach to it, all these things very often are developed simultaneously in different places. And so in a certain sense, it is very hard to have a delay be very effective unless there is an international consensus about how to sort of secure this information. There have been arguments made, and it may be that these arguments may differ in different fields, namely that if there is a slight delay of some sort, it allows the groups that have developed this ways of trying to counter measures that could arise from the release of this information.
Now, that is also an argument. And I think it probably depends very much on the circumstances. I think if-- a policy which is uniform for everything probably is not a good policy.
VEST: If I might, I'd like to make a brief comment that ties an aspect of these last two questions together. The major policy outcome of that period when the questions about cryptography were raised was national security decision directive 189, NSDD 189 that was promulgated by then President Reagan that drew a bright line. And it said that fundamental research in the university was basically exempt from restrictions and that the only appropriate mechanism for restricting it was classification, to go all the way to the system that Professor Friedman mentioned.
One of the things the scientific community has worked very hard on in these last two years is to remind the administration that that remains the law of the land. And indeed, NSDD 189 has been restated by Condoleezza Rice and also by Jack [? Marburger, ?] the director of science and technology policy. And one of the things we as a community have been working very hard on is to be sure that it is really implemented.
And if we do that, we get away from a lot of the fuzziness that enables the bureaucracy to kind of get in and put restrictions where it really should not be.
FRIEDMAN: Maybe I could make another comment about this. The example that I mentioned about the uranium research during the early days of World War II where there was a self-embargo on publication is an example where one wanted to try to-- and of course, this kind of research was going on all over the world. And I guess there was a perception that if something new was discovered, they wanted it to essentially not get it out as quickly as publication would permit.
But I think there is an issue here in general. I mean, those were under very special circumstances. If you start letting delays come in, it's a very slippery slope. And one has to be very careful that if that becomes a kind of methodology for developing security, the delay can get longer and longer and longer and then also end up being infinite. And so I think one has to be extremely careful that it has to be maybe under certain extraordinary circumstances. And there are always exceptions for extraordinary circumstances. One might contemplate such a thing. But in general, one would not want to have such a policy.
VEST: Yes, sir?
AUDIENCE: A lot of people feel that the government's regulations and select agents are unduly restrictive and prohibit research, and as a result, I guess over the last few months especially, we've seen a lot of infectious disease specialists step out of their fields and stop their research on particular select agents and new people coming into the field have been discouraged from working on these agents. Do you think-- how do you feel that this balances out with the security of the nation? And do you feel that the select agent policy pursued by the government should be in place as it is right now?
SHARP: As I commented, I believe the policy that's in place now will somewhat discourage research in the area with these select agents. Most of those select agents include organisms such as anthrax, Ebola virus, several other highly infectious-- Marburg virus-- highly infectious agents. You would not want to engage in research with those agents unless you were equipped with a very high containment-type facility which would protect the investigators from those agents.
But as I mentioned, we don't have those agents here at MIT in terms of current research. But putting restrictions in will discourage research. And in time, that could make you more at risk for not being able to control and identify those agents. It's only been a short period of time now. What the consequences will be in a couple of years will become even more clear.
AUDIENCE: Question for Dr. Sharp. I respect Murphy's law. What could go wrong will go wrong. Indeed, I believe a major lesson from the 11th of September is an attestation to this theorem. Life as we know it has all the time, since the time of its inception, been the target of an injurious and hostile environment as we look at it. We, as a sophisticated society, have also become the target of hostility. To sit back today and close the doors, as you rightfully said, which is very wrong, would just be creating walls in front of our basically high speed in the pathway of evolution. I think we should and I would like to seek your opinion.
Look at this hostility and noxious action from some elements. Take advantage of what they have done and evolve into a higher stage rather than closing our doors, sitting back, and letting them damage us even more by, as was said, restricting our scientific research. What is your idea about going ahead instead of waiting to get hit for a second time, which probably is a matter of when, not if, to go ahead and start mass vaccination against the major agents like anthrax, smallpox. Other agents I understand some difficulty, like Ebola and others that they might be thinking or considering to use against all of us here. So what is the administration's policy today for all of us as a nation regarding vaccination? I personally feel it would be prudent to go ahead and seriously consider mass vaccination against all these dangerous and deadly agents rather than waiting to get hit for a second time and maybe on a much broader basis.
SHARP: Thank you. I would say the following, and I'll answer your question, that vaccination is by far the most effective means of protecting ourselves against most viral or bacterial or other agents. And as far as I'm aware, commit ourselves to pairing all the vaccines we need to vaccinate the population in a case of an attack. But let's take the example of smallpox. The vaccine now being used are available for smallpox as a vaccine that's well over 50 or 70 years old. It has complications in terms of infecting a small fraction of the people who take the vaccine or have been given the vaccine. That's significant medical complications.
With modern biological methodologies, we should be able to make a safer vaccine and have it available upon demand for treatment in terms of an infection. The same should be true of anthrax and a number of other agents. Whether you need to vaccinate the population now or wait until you see a challenge and then vaccinate the population I think is an issue of what's at risk. How can you contain it? Who are put at risk at what time, either by vaccinating or by waiting and seeing if the vaccine-- if the infection appears?
I totally agree with you in terms of working forward and making new vaccines against most of these agents would be the most satisfactory way of potentially protecting ourselves. But for some of these agents, we don't have, as far as I'm aware, model systems that we can use to develop and treat vaccines. We need the science to do that.
VEST: More questions? Yes?
AUDIENCE: I'm a postdoc at the Institute. I'm a historian of science. I have a more general question about where scientists think they are today. Some of the case studies you cited today were from World War II and from the Cold War. MIT especially profited greatly during the Cold War. Basically funding was up, made it into a great institution.
I'm sort of wondering, when you think about the war on terrorism, how do you really construct the threat to science today and the real threat to national security? And what do you see as necessary changes for science practice in the next five to 10 years, aside from some of the acts we've talked about coming from Washington? I mean, do you see the need for a possible return to restricted dissertation and basically black box dissertations in the near future? I mean, do you see anything coming along the line for that? Why or why not, actually?
FRIEDMAN: Well, I think there's actually no need for restricted or classified dissertations because the truth of the matter is, we have facilities in which classified research can be carried out. And as I mentioned in my talk, it is not a very good educational experience for students to get involved in classified research for a thesis. So I think that aspect has not changed. What may change is when they have a larger percentage of faculty members who go to classified facilities to work, universities may get more leaves of absence for this if there are periods of greater need. So there can be that kind of mobilization.
But I think that's what's going to happen. As long as we can keep the scientific enterprise going as it is, we will maintain our strength. If we let it get involved in classified work on campus, I think it's going to be the end of open science at the University. And of course, it's going to be very detrimental to our scientific enterprise and our education. So I don't see much change from that point of view, perhaps a greater participation, as I said, has hurt facilities.
AUDIENCE: Hello. Hello. Professor Sharp cited the example of a global SARS epidemic as a potential natural threat. The fight against SARS was special in the enormous collaboration among researchers worldwide. More typically, researchers have tended to somewhat selfishly hoard their primary data in order to be the first to publish it. This can lead to delays in disclosing primary data that would be helpful in fighting an emerging epidemic. How do we help researchers overcome this tendency to-- this desire to want to be first to publish an academic paper at the expense of fighting a global threat such as an emerging epidemic? And what is the effect of security measures on non-traditional means of disclosing data, such as over the internet?
SHARP: Well, there is no question that the academic community tends to want to be the first to describe a new phenomenon or identify a new agent. But in many cases, that perceived need works in conjunction with the first to disclose and the first to discuss about it. In infectious diseases, as you commented, we have now a very effective worldwide interplay between World Health Organization, CDC, and other national organizations in trying to identify and combat global diseases.
I doubt seriously-- I'm not an expert in this area-- but I doubt seriously if delays in terms of disclosure or publication is significant in that area. I mean, these people-- my perception-- are very committed to trying to control infectious diseasese, and in many cases will put that aside-- in most cases-- to try to be as effective as they can be.
AUDIENCE: A few days ago I heard on the radio an ex-colleague of yours, Paul Krugman, who maintained that the ballooning tax, the ballooning deficit that the government creates, may eventually be used to cut off popular programs because the government will present the people with the choice or either we increase taxes to start paying for the deficit or we cut popular programs. So my question is, do you think that the same argument eventually may apply to your funding for research of this sort? So could we ever get into a situation where the government would say-- would present the people the option of either we increase your taxes or we keep on paying off what is those programs that may be potentially be used by terrorists? Do you see any indication of that? And if that happens, how are you going to react to this?
FRIEDMAN: Well, as the deficit gets larger, which it's getting quite large now, discretionary spending gets very small. And of course, basic research comes out of discretionary spending. And it is under threat, especially when one does not make the connection between the importance of basic research and the security of the country. And so I think it's very important, again, for the scientific community to speak to the government as forcefully as it can in a unified voice. And this has been happening in many of these societies across the country. And in fact, there has been an approach to have all societies get together and not plead for their own particular discipline, but to plead for better funding in science across the entire scientific spectrum. And that includes, of course, engineering.
And so the idea is to have a balanced portfolio in size. And there is an effort going on. It's a very intense effort. And these are very difficult times. And as we said before, all we can do is work as hard as we can to try to make sure that we don't fall too far behind because if this kind of funding does fall too far behind, it puts the country in great jeopardy, as President Vest pointed out, in terms of the Hart-Rudman report. I also pointed out our national security in the next 25 years depends more on the health or science and education enterprises than almost anything else. And we underfund them at great jeopardy to the country.
SHARP: I want to add one comment here. We in the biological community, particularly those people who are supported by the National Institute of Health, have had the great fortune over the last five years to have total support of biological science doubled in terms of the NIH budget. Or it's near doubled. It's approaching that. My particular concern-- and I'm sure my colleague Jerry and Chuck Vest would agree-- is that in the physical sciences we've not seen anything like the increase in support for research that we have in biological sciences.
And as biological sciences become more integrated into public health and systems and more complex ways of looking at their interaction with the environment and internally, the input from physics and engineering becomes more and more critical. So I plead for particularly greater support in the physical sciences now to enrich this community in great universities like MIT.
FRIEDMAN: Frank, thank you. I very much appreciate those remarks.
AUDIENCE: I'd like to touch upon the remark made by Professor Sharp that we can't eliminate the possibility 100% of any biological agent being used as an epidemic. I'd like to draw a parallel to how much money should be spent on Homeland Security? I think the comments here have more towards the impact of Homeland Security on research. But would you like to also touch on welfare spending, as well as Homeland Security spending, for example, the transportation administration would like to spend as much money to eliminate any and all possible occurrences of a security lapse.
But any system with software, as well as human intervention, is liable for such flaws. So where do you see the limit on funding all these things getting drawn?
SHARP: I can't address the specific limit or what is reasonable for funding. I would have to say that we as a society are very poor at making relative risk judgments. So if you have a particular attack and it was a disaster attack in 9/11 or various other things it's hard for us as a community to put relative risk in perspective and then make investments that would have the appropriate benefits given the relative risk.
And I think if I were arguing about how much resources you should put into Homeland Security versus other things, I think you have to include in that conversation what relative risk and relative benefit will come from investment of a given amount of dollars in this area versus that area. And that's a dialogue I would like to see elevated because I think we're investing some very foolish money.
AUDIENCE: I think you shared very well how MIT is responding to these risks. And I was just wondering if other universities around the nation are responding in the same way or if they're allowing more students to work on confidential work or how the other universities are handling them?
FRIEDMAN: Chuck, why don't you take--
VEST: Yeah. Let me comment a little on that. We felt it was really important because of MIT's stature broadly in the scientific and technological higher education community to get out front of this issue a little bit and speak quite clearly early on, in the hopes that we would gather a lot of colleagues with us. A lot of the work that has been done on policy of openness, interaction with the government from student visas to the research questions here, has been done collectively by the Association of American Universities, which are about the top 60 public and private research institutions.
But I have to tell you that going forward, one of my real fears-- and I don't have a lot of data to place on the table yet-- but one of my real fears is that the combination of budgetary pressures due to a weak economy and lowered state tax basis and so forth and the possible availability of a lot of research that comes with some significant restrictions that that temptation is going to be very great for a number of institutions.
So all we can do is jawbone and work together. And as I said in my introduction, try to clearly articulate and live by our principles. I consider it a danger. And it's a danger that I think every campus should address overtly and not that many are.
AUDIENCE: So like I guess my question is-- I came from-- I work in a biotech, Genentech [INAUDIBLE] so I always try to making drug discovery versus drug producing. So when the company producing a drug, they are financially independent. They don't need anything else. So you don't need the government on anything because you're producing something, just like you grow your vegetable, your, you know, wherever.
Now, the question I want to ask is that MIT is very famous on technology. Will you ever think that MIT making their own drugs-- you know, you sell the drug and you get a lot of money?
SHARP: The answer to that question is no. And the reason for that is that MIT is a-- well, at least I'll speak from the biological research community, is a community that's most effective in making new discoveries relative to biological systems. And we had the great fortune-- occurrence several decades ago, as you're aware of, to have participated in the discovery of recombinant DNA. And from that came the biotech community, which translated out into society and is now taking that technology and making practical drugs.
But to actually develop a drug, as you know from Genentech, requires large teams of people focused on a specific objective over periods of time. And the motivation here has to be focused on having an effective, cost effective, highly therapeutic drug and motivations of education and motivations of the training and publication and free disclosure and everybody being individually creative so they can develop their self-talent is really inconsistent with that type of activity, plus the fact that you have to invest $200 to $300 million.
So I think that business is the business of the private sector. It's best done there and regulated there. And we play the role of being the educator research community that keeps trying to produce the future, which will allow future developments of private sector activities like that.
AUDIENCE: Alternatively, you can send all the student to all these biotech company.
SHARP: That's fine. That works well. Over here.
AUDIENCE: Hi. I'm from Student [INAUDIBLE] and that leads me to think of a broader question. What could the value be of directing funding from Homeland Security to the more fundamental problem, that is, of dealing with the cause of the hatred and dealing with trying to consider trying to prevent hatred from affecting other people. So is there a value to funding development education in communities that would benefit from that and enhance-- encourage a change in political mind shift? Granted, there will always be fanatics, perhaps, that will want to cause harm. But could this percentage be diminished by a shift in funding research?
FRIEDMAN: Well, it seems to me there's always use in funding the social and political sciences to get a better understanding of why there are terrorists in the world and what are the issues and trying to understand what the strategies are and what the motives are because I think in a certain sense, those things have to be understood, too, as well as getting defenses against terrorism. Because in the long run, what you really want to do is eradicate the sources of terrorism, not just defend yourself with a big wall.
So I think in the grand scheme of things, clearly security is also best gotten by increasing our understanding in other areas in addition to science and technology.
AUDIENCE: You said before that it's important for the scientific community to speak with one voice, to unite. I'm wondering how me as an undergraduate and anybody else in this room who would like to could add our voice to the rest of the scientific community? I haven't had much experience here at MIT. This is my first year. But I'd like to know how I could contribute.
FRIEDMAN: Let me tell you, there's one method one can use. Most professional societies for the sciences have days in which they go and visit Washington, talk to congressmen and staffers. And they find it very effective to have graduate students come along and talk about what they are involved in and what their career development has been. And they make very, very impressive spokesmen and spokespeople, I should say, for the sciences.
So I don't know what field you're in. But whatever field you're in, there is probably a professional society associated with it. You might find out when they have visiting days. Most of them do. And see if you can go and participate.
SHARP: One of the things that I think is very important for the society, and it involves young people like you, is that we have contemporary cutting edge research going on in universities that are involved in education, both at an undergraduate and graduate level. And it has amazed me how fast fundamental advances in science can percolate through the community when students sit in a classroom and hear such discussions, move home and talk to their friends, and they talk to their friends. It's an amazing system of educating a democracy that's very valuable. And I hope this country never goes to the research model in which research is done in institutions and education is done over there because I think it does delay in a significant way how a society can judge technology, understand it, and use it more effectively.
So I mean, you participate in multiple ways you don't know about, by just being you.
VEST: I would add a couple of very practical points to this. In addition to the professional societies that Professor Friedman mentioned, we are very active at MIT in an organization we helped found called the Science Coalition. There's another group called Research America that has in the past emphasized the life sciences. There is a coalition on behalf of the National Science Foundation. And every year, there are two or three days that we help organize to get students to Washington to tell their personal stories.
I absolutely agree with Jerry. The only group that's more effective than graduate students are undergraduate students. And if you're interested in this sort of thing, just give a call or an email to Paul [? Paravano ?] in our Office of Government and Community Relations. And if you forget that name, send me an email. And finally, largely organized through our political science department, we have a modest scale, but really excellent summer internship program in Washington. And getting MIT students out across both the government and nonprofit organizations in Washington is very, very helpful in this regard. Yes?
AUDIENCE: As professors and mentors to young students and budding scientists, if a talented young graduate student stepped into her office and said, should I go and get a post in a productive research university, or should I go and get a job in a national lab where research is done for a very directed purpose of national security, what would you tell to her or him? What would be your advice?
FRIEDMAN: Well, I think both offer very interesting career possibilities. And I think one has to find out what motivates a student. What does the student really want to do? Does the student want to teach? Does the student want to work primarily in the laboratory? Does the student want to work on more fundamental research or more applied research? These are all questions the student should answer.
And given the set of answers, one would say that one opportunity allows you to do more of one than the other. And that's how I would suggest the student make a decision. But I would not want to tell the student what he or she should do. The student should decide for him or herself on the basis of such questions.
SHARP: I think the answer, Jerry, is the exact one that I would give. When students come to me for advice, I basically tried to lead them to unveil what they are really interested in and then allow them to think about what they're going to do with their careers. Because I wouldn't want to-- and couldn't-- understand an individual well enough to say, this is the career path for you or that's the career path. You lead a student to really being honest, put everything on the table, and then allow them to make that decision.
AUDIENCE: This is a question primarily for Professor Sharp, in particular with vaccines, maybe stepping aside a bit. The anthrax vaccine was very much in the press. And as a service member, I was on the receiving end of that. And there's nothing more intimate than taking a vaccine into your body for defense. And as a layman, it's really-- there's some big obstacles to understanding what goes into the making of a vaccine and the effectiveness, especially that vaccine in particular. What are the responsibilities of the research community for keeping us educated as citizens about the efforts of the government to make these vaccines? And is there a danger that in drawing the firewalls between yourself and confidential research that you step out to the point that you're not protecting your fellow citizens from government-specific research led by defense doctors and defense researchers that maybe aren't as qualified as the best and the brightest outside that envelope?
SHARP: I think when you isolate a community in any way from open disclosure and criticism from another community, you run the risk of having not the most critical discussion of the use of any agent. So I don't know the specifics about an anthrax vaccine. I don't know how it was tested, what the nature of the tests were, and whether they were ever published or not. But every time you draw a line saying, I can't disclose this, you run the risk that those individuals inside the line are not being criticized and scrutinized to the extent that those on the other side would if they had access. That's all I can say.
AUDIENCE: It seems that the general opinion from the panel is that of the scientific community saying that government restrictions of any sort will impede rather than improve national security. And while I don't necessarily disagree with that thesis, is there, in your opinion, any government restrictions that would be appropriate? And I mostly ask that question in that it seems that if this kind of dialogue leads to the-- sounds to someone outside of the scientific community as all of the scientists locking arms and saying, leave us alone. We're going to govern ourselves. We know what's best. And we can do it. Is there anything that would be appropriate for the government to say in that sense?
FRIEDMAN: There are many things which are appropriate. We're really talking about certain kinds of basic research, fundamental research. I mean, after all, in the nuclear arms development, that was all secret, and should be secret. One would never want to bring such work into a campus area. So there are always strategic secrets that have to be protected. And I don't think anybody in the scientific community would ever say otherwise. The only problem is over-classifying and extending it to areas which are not vital to national security in that sense, and therefore causing harm to science and education.
But I do not want you to go away with the idea that the scientific community is against the classification of strategic secrets. That certainly is not the case.
VEST: Absolutely. And If I could just add a little bit to that, if you've listened closely to some of the themes that have run through this, what we want are very bright, distinct, clear lines. We think that line is, should be classified or unclassified. What we don't like are these sort of fuzzy terms that can be implemented after the fact. That's why several of us mentioned the sensitive but unclassified category of information. Yes.
AUDIENCE: May allow to ask third question? Or should I still-- I could sit down, be quiet.
AUDIENCE: OK, now this is a very serious one. I quit my job from industry coming back to help the people, the academia people, to meet biotech people. I create a symposium call [? Lilas Pauling, ?] two Nobel Prize, [? Lilas Pauling ?] biotech symposium. And I'm have panel discussion, academia versus industry for new drug discovery. I have 100 speaker for industry. And I can hardly find any speaker from academia. So in my panel I have no academia speaker. So question is that you are sitting here because you're giving back. I asked myself-- they are apparently asking for money. Academia speaker, they want me to give the money. But I don't have money to give to them. So how can I get academia speaker to join my panel discussion for students? And by the way, the symposium is free of charge. We have Chinese dim sum whole day long. And my two faculty club. OK, now question, how could I convince these so-called professor come to my panel discussion for one hour? I feed them with dim sum. How can I-- how can I ask them? And they are more busy than any industry people.
SHARP: Well, I don't have an answer to that, but I'm sure you will find an answer given your enthusiasm.
AUDIENCE: I send out 1,000 email. I got zero back.
FRIEDMAN: No, emails don't work. If you really want to get somebody to speak, you should speak to them personally and explain what the conference is all about and why it's important. Each of us gets so many emails each day. We cannot keep up with it. And I suspect that your email is not being looked at seriously. So if you really want to get people, talk to them.
AUDIENCE: But they don't answer my phone call.
VEST: Well, please join me in thanking professors Friedman and Sharp. But before we do so, I am told that while it may not be dim sum, there are refreshments available in the lobby. Thank you.