Eckard Wimmer makes viruses from scratch. When he first made a polio virus out of raw ingredients in 2002, some congressmen drafted a resolution to condemn him. Today, he’s making viruses that act like vaccines.
Wimmer was one of several virologists I called over the past couple days to talk about the controversy swirling around altered bird flu viruses that have the scientific community deeply worried. Their reactions are all over the board, from those who think the research shouldn’t have even been done in the first place to others who want the research published in full and replicated many times over. My report is over at Slate. It’s a debate that gets to the heart of the scientific process in the twenty-first century. Check it out.