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Global uncertainties

Work funded under this priority will be BBSRC's principal contribution to research that directly addresses the core areas of the Global Uncertainties (GU) programme (see external links). GU brings together the activities of all of the Research Councils in response to global security challenges. It aims to help governments, businesses and societies to better predict, detect, prevent and mitigate threats to security.

BBSRC science is particularly (but not only - see (ii) below) relevant to aspects of the GU programme's theme on the proliferation of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) weapons and technologies. The threat from terrorist use of CBRN features strongly in the Government's National Security Strategy (2010), against a background of rapid technological progress - particularly in the biosciences - and the global diffusion of scientific knowledge with potential for "dual use".


The aim is to encourage research that will enable the better prediction, detection and mitigation of threats to security - particularly from the misuse of biological agents or technologies - by informing the development of strategies for their prevention, identification and control.

Scientific scope

  1. Research that addresses security issues associated with the understanding and exploitation of biological agents or processes, including potential threats from the misuse of human, animal or plant pathogens, or of advances in biological technologies such as genomics, biotechnology or synthetic biology.
  2. Other, potentially interdisciplinary research, within BBSRC's remit, that is relevant to any of the other GU themes (cyber-security, ideologies and beliefs, terrorism, threats to infrastructures, transnational organised crime). This might include, for example:
    • fundamental psychological studies relevant to the detection and prevention of threats to security, for example of cognitive processes relating to the identification of anomalous behaviour or malicious intent in others, or to the making of decisions about where and when to intervene;
    • development of new or improved biometric technologies for security purposes;
    • work on the application in security contexts of tools from biological research, such as the possible use of bioinformatics techniques for analysing other kinds of complex data.

Activities in category (2) are likely to fall close to the boundaries between the remits of BBSRC and other Research Councils. Prospective applicants are encouraged to seek early advice on the suitability for submission to BBSRC of proposals of this kind.