The top Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee are pressing the president of Boston University for more information about the institution’s recent COVID-19 research.
Earlier this month, researchers from the Boston University (BU) School of Medicine published findings from a preprint study in which they combined the ancestral coronavirus with genetic data from the circulating omicron strain.
The school has vehemently pushed back against reports that the research was “gain of function,” a controversial method where researchers make a pathogen more infectious, often to develop more effective treatments and vaccines. School officials said the research actually made the virus replicate less dangerously.
In a letter sent Tuesday, Energy and Commerce ranking member Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), Rep. Brett Guthrie (Ky.), the top Republican on the health subcommittee; and Rep. H. Morgan Griffith (Va.), the top Republican on the Oversight and Investigations subcommittee, asked the university to provide a copy of its safety protocols, copies of the terms for its funding grants and other documents.
The National Institutes of Health said it did not review nor issue awards for the experiments described in the article, and is examining the matter to determine whether the research should have been subject to agency guidelines.
BU has stated that the research did not have to be cleared, because the experiments were carried out with funds from BU and that there was no gain of function with the research.
The lawmakers also asked for BU to provide a staff briefing with subject matter experts.