Science and Engineering Ethics

, 9:319

First online:

Parallel path: Poliovirus research in the vaccine era

  • Michele S. GarfinkelAffiliated withCenter for Science, Policy, & Outcomes Email author 
  • , Daniel SarewitzAffiliated withCenter for Science, Policy, & Outcomes

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One goal of the scientific research enterprise is to improve the lives of individuals and the overall health of societies. This goal is achieved through a combination of factors, including the composition of research portfolios. In turn, this composition is determined by a variety of scientific and societal needs. The recent history of polio research highlights the complex relations between research policy, scientific progress and societal benefits. Here, we briefly review the circumstances leading to the possibility of eradication of poliovirus, evaluate the research environment that emerged following the introduction of a vaccine, and compare and contrast the current research framework with that for other infectious diseases. From this analysis, policy lessons with general applicability to scientific research are identified.


scientific responsibility societal outcomes research policy