NIH says it has no documents available pertaining to removal of 'gain-of-function' definition

The official definition of 'gain-of-function' research was removed from the NIH's website in mid-October

Updated: December 9, 2021 - 11:23am

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No documents currently exist that explain why NIH officials removed the definition of "gain-of-function research" from the agency's website, according to a report from the Epoch Times.

The National Institutes of Health formerly included a definition of the research, but removed it at about the same time that the agency revealed it had funded research in China that qualified under its own definition of gain-of-function.

According to the report, the definition was deleted in mid-October. The outlet received a response for a Freedom of Information Act request it had filed with the agency, informing them that the NIH "does not have documentation" pertaining to the deletion.

Several years ago, the Department of Health and Human Services published a document providing ways in which to deal with research that involved "enhanced potential pandemic pathogens" – different language for gain of function research. The document defined the pathogens as both highly transmissible and likely to cause serious sickness or death to people. 

The general, scientific rational for such research is to better understand how pathogens spread.  

Documents released to lawmakers in October showed that the agency funded gain of function research in China that included enhancing the pathogenicity of a modified bat coronavirus, through the EcoHealth Alliance.

NIH director Dr. Francis Collins said in May that the agency has never approved any grant that would support gain-of-function research in viruses that would have increased transmissibility or lethality for humans.

He later argued that the research that was conducted by his agency did not meet the specific definition of gain-of-function laid out in the framework of the question.