Panel To Discuss 'A Manhattan Project For Biodefense' At NYC Public Meeting

Press Release | Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense | July 8, 2019

July 11 Meeting to Focus on a National, Public-Private Research and Development Effort to Defend the United States Against Biological Threats

WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 8, 2019) - The bipartisan Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense will host its first-ever public meeting in New York City this Thursday, July 11, to discuss A Manhattan Project for Biodefense - a national, public-private research and development undertaking to defend the U.S. against biological threats. These threats include biological warfare and bioterrorism, where nation-states or terror groups intentionally spread biological agents to cause widespread panic and harm, as well as infectious disease pandemics. New York City has been on the front lines, preparing for and responding to biological incidents, such as when the Ebola virus arrived in Manhattan from Africa in 2014. This same deadly virus has seen a resurgence in the Congo in 2019.

Blue Ribbon Study Panel in New York City - Credit Steve Aaron"The recent ceremonies marking the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion remind us of a wartime service that ultimately led to the end of World War II in Europe. A different kind of service started years before the war's end and propelled the Allies to victory in the Pacific," said former U.S. Senator and Panel Co-Chair Joe Lieberman. "That was the Manhattan Project, to develop the atomic bomb. A similar effort is needed today to defend against an increasingly global biological threat from infectious disease and bioterrorists."

"We are at a decided disadvantage when it comes to defending against a biological threat. No matter what the source, the nation and the world are at catastrophic biological risk from terrorist attacks and infectious diseases. We have a responsibility to act now to prevent the worst from happening in the future."

Max Brooks, the best-selling author of "World War Z" and non-resident fellow at the Modern War Institute at West Point, will be a featured speaker and will share the historical perspective on biological warfare. Brooks recently partnered with the Study Panel to produce GERM WARFARE: A Very Graphic History, a graphic novel that depicts previous biological warfare events, the possibilities for the future, and the continued need for public health security.

Representatives from the same sorts of organizations that contributed to the original Manhattan Project will gather to talk with the Panel about the biological threat, cutting-edge biodefense research, needed resources, and business risk. Also on the agenda is a discussion of a universal flu vaccine as an example of public-private interagency activity. Meeting details, including a complete agenda, can be found here.

Editor's Note: Media should RSVP to either attend the event or watch a live stream by contacting [email protected]. The event will be held on July 11 from 9am to 3:30pm at 58 E. 68th Street, New York City.

About the Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense

The Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense was established in 2014 to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the state of U.S. biodefense efforts, and to issue recommendations to foster change. The Panel's 2015 report, A National Blueprint for Biodefense: Leadership and Major Reform Needed to Optimize Efforts, identified capability gaps and recommended changes to U.S. policy and law to strengthen national biodefense while optimizing resource investments. Subsequent Panel publications have addressed critical needs for agrosecurity, biodefense budgeting, and State, Local, Tribal and Territorial support. In September 2018, the White House released the National Biodefense Strategy, a top recommendation from the Blueprint. The Panel continues to assess biodefense challenges and to urge reform. Former Senator Joe Lieberman and former Governor Tom Ridge co-chair the Panel, and are joined by former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, former Representative Jim Greenwood, former Homeland Security Advisor Ken Wainstein, and former Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Advisor Lisa Monaco. Hudson Institute is the Panel's fiscal sponsor.