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Joint Committee on the Handling of Security-Relevant Research

The Joint Committee on the Handling of Security-Relevant Research was established by the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina and the German Research Foundation (DFG). The goal of the committee is to support research institutions in the sustainable implementation of the recommendations published in June 2014 by DFG and the Leopoldina under the title “Scientific Freedom and Scientific Responsibility”.

Professor Bärbel Friedrich ML, representative of the Leopoldina Presidium, and Professor Frank Allgöwer, Vice-President of DFG, serve as the chairpersons of the Joint Committee on the Handling of Security-Relevant Research, which initially has a three-year mandate. The various members come from relevant disciplines – from natural and life sciences to ethics and jurisprudence.

The joint committee stays abreast of the progress in enacting the recommendations through monitoring and provides support to the research institutes for the implementation of its proposals. Ideally, the process of establishing committees for ethics in security-relevant research or of appropriately extending the responsibilities of already existing ethics committees should be largely completed at German research institutions by the end of 2017. These committees should enable the individual institutes to properly and responsibly deal with troubling issues arising from specific research projects and to decide themselves how to continue. In order to assist German universities, research institutes and research associations with setting up these committees for ethics in security-relevant research and to ensure that the statutory tasks and powers of these committees are as uniform as possible, the Joint Committee drew up a set of model statutes.

The Joint Committee also serves as a contact point for questions and a platform for the exchange of information. If it is not possible for an adequate decision about a particular case to be made locally, the Leopoldina may appoint ad-hoc working groups that, in close cooperation with the Joint Committee, can make a risk-benefit assessment of the research in question.

Moreover, the Joint Committee publishes progress reports on a regular basis, keeps a close eye on developments in the area of security-relevant research in Germany, identifies potential fields of activity and provides advice to the Leopoldina and DFG regarding these issues.


  • Prof. Dr.-Ing. Frank Allgöwer, Universität Stuttgart, Institut für Systemtheorie und Regelungstechnik (Representative of the DFG Presidium)
  • Prof. Dr. Bärbel Friedrich ML, German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina (Representative of the Leopoldina Presidium)


  • Prof. Dr. Stephan Becker ML, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Institut für Virologie
  • Prof. Dr. Alfons Bora, Universität Bielefeld, Fakultät für Soziologie
  • Prof. Dr. Johannes Buchmann ML, Technische Universität Darmstadt, Fachbereich Informatik
  • Prof. Dr.-Ing. Anke Kaysser-Pyzalla, Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie (HZB)
  • Prof. Dr. Kathryn Nixdorff, Technische Universität Darmstadt, Fachbereich Biologie
  • Prof. Dr. Lars Schaade, Robert-Koch-Institut Berlin
  • Prof. Dr. Ulrich Sieber, MPI für ausländisches und internationales Strafrecht, Freiburg
  • Prof. Dr. Fritz Strack ML, Universität Würzburg, Lehrstuhl Psychologie II
  • Prof. Dr. Klaus Tanner ML, Universität Heidelberg, Theologische Fakultät
  • Prof. Dr. Jochen Taupitz ML, Universität Mannheim, Fakultät für Rechtswissenschaft und Volkswirtschaftslehre

Office of the Joint Committee

  • Yvonne Borchert, Nationale Akademie der Wissenschaften Leopoldina
  • Dr. Johannes Fritsch, German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina

Contact at the German Research Foundation (DFG)

  • Dr. Ingrid Ohlert, Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft

ML = Member of the Leopoldina

Progress Report

Joint Committee on the Handling of Security-Relevant Research: Progress Report (2016)

First Progress Report of the Joint Committee, October 2016

Model Statutes

The model statutes for Committees for Ethics in Security-Relevant Research (KEFs) can be downloaded here.

Model Statutes for KEFs (pdf)


Informationsveranstaltung zur Umsetzung der Empfehlungen zum Umgang mit sicherheitsrelevanter Forschung

Berlin, 14 April 2016 - Documentation of the event (German)

Freiheit und Verantwortung in den IT-Wissenschaften

Darmstadt, 27 October 2017 - Documentation of the event (German)

Further Publications

Freiheit und Verantwortung der Wissenschaft: Rechtfertigen die Erfolgschancen von Forschung ihre potentiellen Risiken? (2015, German)

Scientific Freedom and Scientific Responsibility Recommendations for Handling Security-Relevant Research (2014)


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Office of the Joint Committee for the Handling of Security-Relevant Research

Dr. Johannes Fritsch

Dr. Johannes Fritsch

Head of Office

Tel.0160 9121 2676


Yvonne Borchert

Yvonne Borchert

Project Coordination

Tel.0170 792 0649


Dr.Anita Krätzner-Ebert

Scientific Officer

Tel.0175 - 293 3935

Dr. Ingrid Ohlert

Contact at the German Research Foundation

Tel.0228 - 885 - 2258
Fax.0228 - 885 - 2777