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Transparency was not always a desired aspect of medicine or STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) research. In the late 1940s, the Nuremberg Code heralded a new era of informed patient consent, research subject protection, and the view that the public had a stake in emerging technology and should have some knowledge and input into the directions of scientific research. This understanding intensified in the United States with the very public discussions leading to the promulgation of the NIH Guidelines for Recombinant DNA Research in the 1970s. The way in which oversight of recombinant DNA research was handled is still the exception rather than the rule. Starting in the 1990s, various terror incidents led to the enactment of statutes and issuance of regulations that undermined the ability of scientists and research institutions to self-regulate and in some cases to disseminate information freely. This essay explores how the scientific community got to this status quo, and how it could regain some measure of control despite competing needs for transparency and security, so that research critical to biosecurity is supported rather than impeded.