Virology under the Microscope—a Call for Rational Discourse

Felicia Goodrum, Anice C. Lowen, Seema Lakdawala, James Alwine, Arturo Casadevall, Michael J. Imperiale, Walter Atwood, Daphne Avgousti, Joel Baines, Bruce Banfield, Lawrence Banks, Sumita Bhaduri-McIntosh, Deepta Bhattacharya, Daniel Blanco-Melo, David Bloom, Adrianus Boon, Steeve Boulant, Curtis Brandt, Andrew Broadbent, Christopher BrookeCraig Cameron, Samuel Campos, Patrizia Caposio, Gary Chan, Anna Cliffe, John Coffin, Kathleen Collins, Blossom Damania, Matthew Daugherty, Kari Debbink, James DeCaprio, Terence Dermody, Jimmy Dikeakos, Daniel DiMaio, Rhoel Dinglasan, W. Paul Duprex, Rebecca Dutch, Nels Elde, Michael Emerman, Lynn Enquist, Bentley Fane, Ana Fernandez-Sesma, Michelle Flenniken, Lori Frappier, Matthew Frieman, Klaus Frueh, Michaela Gack, Marta Gaglia, Tom Gallagher, Denise Galloway, Adolfo García-Sastre, Adam Geballe, Britt Glaunsinger, Stephen Goff, Alexander Greninger, Meaghan Hancock, Eva Harris, Nicholas Heaton, Mark Heise, Ekaterina Heldwein, Brenda Hogue, Stacy Horner, Edward Hutchinson, Joseph Hyser, William Jackson, Robert Kalejta, Jeremy Kamil, Stephanie Karst, Frank Kirchhoff, David Knipe, Timothy Kowalik, Michael Lagunoff, Laimonis Laimins, Ryan Langlois, Adam Lauring, Benhur Lee, David Leib, Shan Lu Liu, Richard Longnecker, Carolina Lopez, Micah Luftig, Jennifer Lund, Balaji Manicassamy, Grant McFadden, Michael McIntosh, Andrew Mehle, W. Allen Miller, Ian Mohr, Cary Moody, Nathaniel Moorman, Anne Moscona, Bryan Mounce, Joshua Munger, Karl Münger, Eain Murphy, Mojgan Naghavi, Jay Nelson, Christopher Neufeldt, Janko Nikolich, Christine O'Connor, Akira Ono, Walter Orenstein, David Ornelles, Jing Hsiung Ou, John Parker, Colin Parrish, Andrew Pekosz, Philip Pellett, Julie Pfeiffer, Richard Plemper, Stephen Polyak, John Purdy, Dohun Pyeon, Miguel Quinones-Mateu, Rolf Renne, Charles Rice, John Schoggins, Richard Roller, Charles Russell, Rozanne Sandri-Goldin, Martin Sapp, Luis Schang, Scott Schmid, Stacey Schultz-Cherry, Bert Semler, Thomas Shenk, Guido Silvestri, Viviana Simon, Gregory Smith, Jason Smith, Katherine Spindler, Megan Stanifer, Kanta Subbarao, Wesley Sundquist, Mehul Suthar, Troy Sutton, Andrew Tai, Vera Tarakanova, Benjamin tenOever, Scott Tibbetts, Stephen Tompkins, Zsolt Toth, Koenraad van Doorslaer, Marco Vignuzzi, Nicholas Wallace, Derek Walsh, Michael Weekes, Jason Weinberg, Matthew Weitzman, Sandra Weller, Sean Whelan, Elizabeth White, Bryan Williams, Christiane Wobus, Scott Wong, Andrew Yurochko

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Viruses have brought humanity many challenges: respiratory infection, cancer, neurological impairment and immunosuppression to name a few. Virology research over the last 601 years has responded to reduce this disease burden with vaccines and antivirals. Despite this long history, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented attention to the field of virology. Some of this attention is focused on concern about the safe conduct of research with human pathogens. A small but vocal group of individuals has seized upon these concerns – conflating legitimate questions about safely conducting virus-related research with uncertainties over the origins of SARS-CoV-2. The result has fueled public confusion and, in many instances, ill-informed condemnation of virology. With this article, we seek to promote a return to rational discourse. We explain the use of gain-of-function approaches in science, discuss the possible origins of SARS-CoV-2 and outline current regulatory structures that provide oversight for virological research in the United States. By offering our expertise, we – a broad group of working virologists – seek to aid policy makers in navigating these controversial issues. Balanced, evidence-based discourse is essential to addressing public concern while maintaining and expanding much-needed research in virology.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Virology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
aDepartment of Immunobiology, BIO5 Institute, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA bDepartment of Microbiology and Immunology, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia, USA cDepartment of Cancer Biology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA dDepartment of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland, USA eDepartment of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA fBrown University, Providence, Rhode Island, USA gFred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington, USA hCornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA iQueen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada jInternational Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, Trieste, Italy kUniversity of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, USA lUniversity of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA mWashington University, St. Louis, Missouri, USA nUniversity of Wisconsin—Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, USA oUniversity of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, USA pUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois, USA qUniversity of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA rOregon Health and Science University, Beaverton, Oregon, USA sSUNY Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, New York, USA tUniversity of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA uTufts University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA vUniversity of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA Copyright © 2023 Goodrum et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license. Address correspondence to Felicia Goodrum, The authors declare a conflict of interest. Sana Biotechnology has licensed intellectual property of D.B. and Washington University in St. Louis. Gilead Sciences has licensed intellectual property of D.B. and Stanford University. D.B. is a co-founder of Clade Therapeutics. D.B. previously served on an advisory panel for GlaxoSmithKline. D.B. and The University of Arizona hold a patent on SARS-CoV-2 serological assays. K.C. is a special government employee and a member of the Office of AIDS Research Advisory Committee. T.S.D.: Board of Directors, Burroughs Wellcome Fund; Editor, Annual Review of Virology. D.D. is on the scientific advisory board of Theriva. W.P.D. receives support from Moderna. M. F. receives funding from National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Gates Foundation, Aikido Pharma, (Continued on next page) wUniversity of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California, USA xJohns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA yHarvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA zUniversity of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA aaWestern University, London, Ontario, Canada bbYale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA ccUniversity of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, USA ddUniversity of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA eePrinceton University, Princeton, New Jersey, USA ffIcahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, New York, USA ggMontana State University, Bozeman, Montana, USA hhUniversity of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada iiFlorida Research and Innovation Center, Port Saint Lucie, Florida, USA jjLoyola University, Maywood, Illinois, USA kkUniversity of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, California, USA llColumbia University, New York, New York, USA mmUniversity of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA nnDuke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA ooArizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, USA ppMRC-University of Glasgow, Glasgow, United Kingdom qqBaylor University, Houston, Texas, USA rrLouisiana State University, Shreveport, Louisiana, USA ssUlm University, Ulm, Germany ttUniversity of Massachusetts, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA uuNorthwestern University, Chicago, Illinois, USA vvUniversity of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA wwDartmouth College, Lebanon, New Hampshire, USA xxThe Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA yyUniversity of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, USA zzIowa State University, Ames, Iowa, USA aaaNew York University, New York, New York, USA bbbUniversity of Rochester, Rochester, New York, USA cccEmory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA dddCleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio, USA eeeWake Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA fffUniversity of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, USA gggWayne State University, Detroit, Michigan, USA hhhUniversity of Texas, Dallas, Texas, USA iiiGeorgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA jjjMichigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA kkkThe Rockefeller University, New York, New York, USA lllSt. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee, USA mmmUniversity of California, Irvine, Irvine, California, USA nnnUniversity of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, USA oooThe Peter Doherty Institute, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia pppThe Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania, USA qqqMedical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA rrrUniversity of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, USA sssA*STAR Infectious Diseases Labs, Singapore tttKansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas, USA uuuUniversity of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom vvvUniversity of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA wwwUniversity of Connecticut, Farmington, Connecticut, USA xxxMonash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia

Funding Information:
No funding was used to support this commentary, but we wish to disclose funding from agencies received by authors. JCA None WJA NIH DCA NIH JDB NIH BWB CIHR, NSERC LB Associazione Italiana per la Ricerca sul Cancro, ICGEB SBM NIH DB NIH, Private Foundation DBM Private Foundation DCB NIH, Private Foundation ACB NIH SB None CRB NIH, NSF, Private Foundation AJB USDA, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), UK CBB NIH, DOD CEC NIH SKC NIH PC NIH AC NIH GCC NIH ARC NIH, Private Foundation JMC NIH KC NIH BD NIH MDD NIH, Burroughs Wellcome Investigators in the Pathogenesis of Infectious Disease Program KD None JAD NIH, Private Foundation TSD NIH, Private Foundation, Heinz Endowments JDD Canadian Institutes of Health Research and Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada DD NIH RRD NIH, USDA, Private Foundation WPD NIH, Zoetis LLC, Moderna, Coalition for Epidemics Preparedness Initiatives (CEPI) RED NIH NCE NIH, Howard Hughes Medical Institute ME NIH LWE None BAF NSF AFS NIH MLF NSF, USDA, Private Foundation LF Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) MBF NIH, Novavax, Astrazeneca, Pfizer, BARDA, Eli Lilly KF NIH, DOD, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation MUG NIH MMG NIH, Private Foundation TG NIH DG NIH, Private Foundation AG-S NIH, DOD, Private Foundation APG NIH BAG NIH, Howard Hughes Medical Institute SPG NIH, Private Foundation FG NIH ALG None MHH NIH EH NIH NSH NIH, DOD, Private Foundation MTH NIH EEH NIH, Private Foundation BGH NIH, NSF SMH NIH ECH UK Medical Research Council, UK Medical Research Council JMH NIH MJI NIH, Via Nova Therapeutics WTJ NIH RFK NIH JPK NIH SMK NIH FK German research foundation (DFG), European research council (ERC) DMK NIH TK NIH, Moderna ML NIH LL NIH SSL NIH RAL NIH ASL NIH, Burroughs Wellcome Fund, Flu Lab, CDC BL NIH, NSF, Private Foundation DAL NIH SL NIH, Private donor's fund, Ohio State. startup fund RML NIH CBL NIH ACL NIH, Private Foundation MAL NIH JML NIH BM NIH GM NIH MTM NIH, DHS AMehle NIH, Private Foundation WAM NIH, Plant Sciences Institute, Iowa State University IM NIH CM NIH NJM NIH AMoscona NIH BCM NIH KM NIH JCM NIH EAM NIH MHN NIH JAN NIH CJN None JZN NIH CMO None AO NIH WAO NIH, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation DAO NIH, Private Foundation JHJO NIH JSP NIH CRP NIH, Private Foundation AP NIH, Private Foundation, CDC PEP NIH JKP NIH, Private Foundation RKP NIH, DOD, Gilead Sciences, Enanta Pharmaceuticals SJP None JGP NIH DP NIH, Private Foundation MQM NIH, Private Foundation RR NIH CMR NIH, Private Foundation RJR NIH CJR NIH RS-G NIH MS NIH LMS NIH, Cornell University, Private donors, Fast Grants SS None JWS NIH SSC NIH, Private Foundation BLS NIH TS NIH, DOD GS NIH, Private Foundation VS NIH, Private Foundation GAS NIH, USDA JGS NIH KRS NIH MLS start-up funds from the University of Florida KS Australian government, NHRMC WIS NIH MSS NIH TCS NIH, USDA AWT NIH VLT NIH, Private Foundation BT NIH, DOD, Private Foundation SAT NIH SMT NIH ZT NIH KVD NIH, Private Foundation MV None NAW NIH DW NIH MPW Medical Research Council, UK (MR/W025647/1); UKRI mpox research consortium (BB/X011143/1) JBW NIH MDW NIH SKW NIH EAW NIH, Private Foundation SPJW NIH, Private Foundation, USAID, Vir Biotechnology BRGW Private Foundation CEW NIH, University of Michigan SWW NIH ADY NIH.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2023 Goodrum et al.


  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus
  • DURC
  • Gain of function
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • biosafety
  • influenza
  • pandemic
  • vaccines
  • zoonosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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