Current Conference - Prepairing for the Inevitable

Bioterrorism and Emerging Infectious Diseases

June 9, 2005 - 8:30 A.M.-12:30 P.M.

Member Room, Jefferson Building

Library of Congress

Washington, DC


Transcript of conference (PDF)

Co-Sponsors: Public Policy Institute, Georgetown University; Center for Law & the Public's Health, Johns Hopkins and Georgetown Universities; Virginia Tech, Office of the National Capital Region; Center for Biosecurity of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

Organizer and Contact: Cynthia P. Schneider, PhD., Pfizer Medical Humanities Scholar in Residence, Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy, Public Policy Institute and School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University, tel.202 687 0703, Assistant: Bryan Schubert,, 314-452-4231.

Goals: To present a realistic assessment of our national preparedness for biothreats and emerging infectious diseases and analyze needed next steps. To critically examine the synergies – potential and realized-- between health care reform and bio-preparedness.

Program: Following bipartisan keynotes by Senators, an interdisciplinary panel will consider all aspects of planning, detection, and response to bioterrorist attacks or virulent communicable diseases. The legal and ethical implications for society as well as the ramifications for security, medicine, and public health all will be discussed together, just as diverse and wide-ranging problems would present themselves in an actual event. The current state of preparedness and the strategy for moving forward will be analyzed in light of potential future attacks or outbreaks. Panelists representing diverse areas of expertise from military preparedness to public health to ethics will be asked to comment on three critical questions: Where are we? Where do we need to be? How do we get there?


 8:30–9:00 - Continental Breakfast

 9:00–9:15 - Welcome and Introduction—Ambassador Cynthia P. Schneider

 9:15–10:45 - Session I—Unfinished Business: Facing the Dual Threat of Bioterrorism and Emerging Infectious Disease

  • U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman (D) Connecticut
  • Question and answer session

 Coffee Break

  • U.S. Representative Christopher Cox (R) California
  • Question and answer session

10:45–11:45 -  Session II—Countermeasures and Responses to Bioterror and Emerging Infectious Diseases: Realistic Assessment of National Preparedness and Next Steps

Panel Discussion—Preparedness and Response:  Where are we? Where do we need to go?  How do we get there?  

  • Moderated by Tara O’Toole, MD, MPH, President & CEO, Center for Biosecurity, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center


  • Richard Falkenrath, PhD, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution, former Deputy Homeland Security Advisor and Deputy Assistant to the President
  • Elin A. Gursky, ScD, Principal Deputy for Biodefense, National Strategies Support Directorate, ANSER
  • James G. Hodge, Jr., JD, LLM, Associate Professor, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Executive Director, Center for Law and the Public’s Health
  • Michael McDonald, DrPH, President, Global Health Initiatives
  • Randall Murch, PhD, Associate Director for Research Program Development, Virginia Tech
  • George Poste, DVM, PhD, DSc, Director, Arizona Biodesign Institute, Arizona State University
11:45–12:30 - Session III—Preparing for the Inevitable: a New Paradigm for Security and Health
  • U.S. Senator Richard Burr (R) North Carolina
  • Question and answer session

  • U.S. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D) New York
  • Question and answer session

Summary and Conclusions

  • Ambassador Cynthia P.  Schneider, PhD, Pfizer Medical Humanities Scholar in Residence, Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy, Public Policy Institute and School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University

12:30                     Adjourn

Panelist Biographies

Richard Falkenrath, PhD

Richard Falkenrath is a Senior Fellow in foreign policy studies at the Brookings Institute. He is also Senior Director of the Civitas Group LLC, a strategic advisory and investment services firm serving the homeland security market; a security analyst for the Cable News Network (CNN); a member of the Aspen Strategy Group; and a member of the Business Advisory Board of Arxan Technologies. In May 2004, he left the White House, where his last position was Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Homeland Security Advisor, a position he had held since January 2003. Previously, he served as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Policy and Plans within the Office of Homeland Security since October 2001. Dr. Falkenrath also served as Director for Proliferation Strategy on the National Security Council staff from January to October 2001 and was a member of the Bush-Cheney Transition Team for the National Security Council. He was Assistant Professor of Public Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, before entering government. From 1995 to 1998, he served as Executive Director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs (BCSIA). He is the author and coauthor of Shaping Europe’s Military Order (1995), Avoiding Nuclear Anarchy (1996), America’s Achilles’ Heel: Nuclear, Biological, Chemical Terrorism and Covert Attack (1998), and numerous journal articles and chapters of edited volumes. Dr. Falkenrath was also a Visiting Research Fellow at the German Society of Foreign Affairs (DGAP) in Bonn in 1995. He holds a PhD from the Department of War Studies, King’s College, London, where he was a British Marshall Scholar, and he is a summa cum laude graduate of Occidental College, Los Angeles, with degrees in economics and international relations.

Elin Gursky, ScD

Elin Gursky is the Principal Deputy for Biodefense in the National Strategies Support Directorate of ANSER/Analytic Services, Arlington, Virginia, where she focuses on biodefense and health security issues. From 1986 through 1998, Dr. Gursky held senior executive positions in local and state public health agencies in Maryland and New Jersey. In 1999 she accepted the position of Vice President for Public Health for a 10-hospital acute care health system, where she worked to bridge the practice gaps between medicine and public health. In August 2001, Dr. Gursky became a Senior Fellow at the Johns Hopkins Center for Civilian Biodefense Strategies, where, among other responsibilities, she analyzed the response to the anthrax attacks. Dr. Gursky joined ANSER in September 2002. Dr. Gursky received a Doctor of Science degree (1985) from the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. She has extensive experience applying mass population-protection strategies to mitigate large-scale epidemics, including epidemiological investigations and outbreak control, pre- and postevent vaccination, postexposure prophylaxis, and risk assessment and communication. Dr. Gursky has held faculty positions at Johns Hopkins University and has developed curriculum, taught courses, and guest lectured in the areas of public health practice and biodefense policy. She has contributed to the development of national health policy, testified before congressional subcommittees, and helped promulgate state health legislation. Dr. Gursky has advised top officials from the Department of Homeland Security, Northern Command (NORTHCOM), and the Joint Task Force-Civil Support on their interface with the civilian sector on issues pertaining to bioterrorism preparedness and response. Dr. Gursky's recent publications include Drafted to Fight Terror: U.S. Public Health on the Front Lines of Biological Defense; The Threat of Smallpox: Eradicated but Not Erased; Hometown Hospitals—The Weakest Link? Bioterrorism Readiness in America’s Rural Hospitals; Progress and Peril: Bioterrorism Preparedness Dollars and Public Health; and Anthrax 2001: Observations on the Medical and Public Health Response.

James G. Hodge, Jr., JD, LLM

James Hodge teaches courses at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health on health information privacy, international human rights and health, and law and bioethics. In addition to his primary faculty appointment at JHSPH, he is an Adjunct Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center, where he lectures in public health law, bioethics, international human rights, and health law and policy. He is also a Core Faculty member of the Berman Bioethics Institute at JHSPH and a member of the Steering Committee for the Information Security Institute at the Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering. Professor Hodge has helped draft several public health law reform initiatives, including the Model State Public Health Information Privacy Act (MSPHPA), the Turning Point Model State Public Health Act, and the Model State Emergency Health Powers Act (MSEHPA). His diverse additional grant projects include work on (1) the compilation, study, and analysis of state genetics laws and policies as part of a multiyear NIH-funded project; (2) historical and legal bases underlying school vaccination programs; (3) international tobacco policy for the World Health Organization's Tobacco Free Initiative; (4) legal and ethical distinctions between public health practice and research; and (5) public health law case studies in Virginia, Michigan, New Hampshire, Oregon, Nebraska, Alaska, Montana, and Delaware. He is a national expert on health information privacy law and ethics (particularly related to public health information), and he has consulted with CDC on its creation of a Health Information Privacy Office, as well as with DHHS, CSTE, APHL, FDA, CMS, and OHRP and others on privacy issues. Additional areas of research include new federalism, HIV/AIDS, partner notification, legal approaches to bioethics, human rights, and other areas in public health law, ethics, and human rights.

Michael McDonald, DrPH

Michael McDonald holds a doctor of public health degree with a specialization in health policy and management from the University of California at Berkeley. He holds a dual specialty Department of Health and Social Sciences MPH in planning and policy and health education with a focus on communications and computing, also from U.C. Berkeley. Dr. Michael McDonald is Coordinator of the National Disaster Risk Communication Initiative and President and CEO of Global Health Initiatives, Inc. He is Communications Chairman of the National Capital Region—Emergency Response and CADS Senior Scientist in the School of Engineering at George Washington University. He is currently leading the Advances in Behavioral, Social, and Natural Sciences for Homeland Security Initiative and is the Director of the Tsunami Disaster Knowledge Management Initiative. Dr. McDonald was the founding chairman of HealthCentral and is past president of Windom Health Enterprises, past chairman of the U.S. Medical Technology Policy Committee (IEEE), and past managing director of Health and Technology for the Koop Foundation. He is also past chairman of Communications and Computer Applications in Public Health, past chairman of the Environmental Science and Policy Institute, a former board member of the Harvard Institute of Cybermedicine, and has been a member of several corporate and community boards. His pioneering work spans several fields, including ground-breaking work in risk assessment, consumer-empowered health systems, the general public/health information interface, health information infrastructure, evidence-based medicine repositories, decision support systems, knowledge management process, health-oriented community networking, and the prevention and management of large-scale social crisis. He has published and lectured extensively in these areas.

Randall Murch, PhD

Randall Murch is the Associate Director, Research Program Development, Research Division, National Capital Region, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. He also holds Adjunct Professorships in the School of Public and International Affairs, College of Architecture and Urban Studies, and the Department of Plant Pathology, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Following graduate school and brief service in the U.S. Army Reserves, Dr. Murch’s first career was with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), where he was a Special Agent. He was assigned to the Indianapolis and Los Angeles Field Offices where he performed counterterrorism, counterintelligence, and other investigations. During his career, he was assigned to the FBI Laboratory as a forensic biologist, research scientist, department head, and deputy director at various times. He was detailed to the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), Department of Defense, where he was the director of the Advanced Systems and Concepts Office and led advanced studies on complex current and future challenges dealing with weapons of mass destruction. While in the FBI he created the FBI’s WMD forensic investigative program, served as the FBI’s science advisor to the 1996 Olympic Games, led forensic investigative aspects of a number of major terrorism cases, and initiated a number of new programs for both the FBI Laboratory and technical investigative program. Throughout his FBI career, he also was involved with extensive liaison at the national and international levels in furthering science and technology for law enforcement, counterterrorism, and national security purposes. He retired from the FBI in November 2002. Dr. Murch was employed as a Research Staff Member, Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA), a leading Federally Funded Research and Development Center, where he led and participated in studies for the defense, intelligence, and homeland security communities. He is still an Adjunct Staff Member at IDA. He joined Virginia Tech in December 2004, where he now works in the areas of life science research program development, systems biology, microbial forensics, biosecurity and university strategic planning. He has or still serves on several advisory boards including the Board of Life Sciences, National Research Council; DTRA’s Threat Reduction Advisory Committee; the Defense Intelligence Agency’s BioChem 2020; and the Scientific Working Group on Microbial Genomics and Forensics. He has also been a member of or advised study committees of the National Research Council, National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine, Defense Science Board, and Threat Reduction Advisory Committee. Murch received his bachelor of science degree in biology from the University of Puget Sound, Tacoma, Washington, his master of science degree in botanical sciences from the University of Hawaii, and his PhD in plant pathology from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Tara O’Toole, MD, MPH (Panel Moderator)

Tara O’Toole is the CEO and Director of the Center for Biosecurity at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and Professor of Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. O’Toole has served on numerous government advisory committees and expert bodies dealing with biodefense, including panels of the Defense Science Board; the National Academy of Engineering Committee on Combating Terrorism; and the National Academy of Sciences Working Group on Biological Weapons. Her publications in the biodefense field include articles on medical management of Class A bioweapons agents; policy issues related to contagious disease containment; biodefense research and development strategies; and hospital preparedness issues. She is coeditor-in-chief of the journal Biosecurity and Bioterrorism: Biodefense Strategy, Practice, and Science, and a principal author and producer of both the Dark Winter and Atlantic Storm exercises, conducted in June 2001 and January 2005, respectively, to alert national and transatlantic leaders to the dangers of bioterrorist attacks. Dr. O’Toole was one of the original members of the Johns Hopkins Center for Civilian Biodefense Strategies and served as Director of the Hopkins Center from 2001–2003. In 2004, she was elected chair of the board of the Federation of American Scientists. From 1993 to 1997, Dr. O’Toole served as Assistant Secretary of Energy for Environment Safety and Health. Prior to that she was a Senior Analyst at the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) from 1989 to 1993. She has served as a consultant to industry and government in matters related to occupational and environmental health, worker participation in workplace safety protection, and organizational change. Dr. O’Toole is a board-certified internist and occupational medicine physician with clinical experience in academic settings and community health centers.

George Poste, DVM, PhD, DSc

George Poste is Director of the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, a major new initiative combining research groups in biotechnology, nanotechnology, materials science, advanced computing, and neuromorphic engineering. In addition to his academic post, he serves as chief executive of a consulting company, Health Technology Networks, which specializes in the application of genomic technologies and computing in healthcare. He is chairman of Orchid Biosciences, the leading company in DNA forensic analysis, and serves on the board of directors of Monsanto and Exelixis. From 1992 to 1999, Dr. Poste was Chief Science and Technology Officer and President of R&D at SmithKline Beecham. During his tenure there he was associated with the successful registration of 31 drug, vaccine, and diagnostic products.  He is a Fellow of the Royal Society and the UK Academy of Medicine; a Distinguished Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University; and a member of the Council for Foreign Relations. He is a member of the Defense Science Board of the U.S. Department of Defense. He also serves as a member of the National Academy of Sciences Working Group on Biological Weapons, the Forum on Microbial Threats of the Institute of Medicine Board on Global Health, and the Institute of Medicine Committee on Advances in Technology and New Generation Biowarfare Threats.

Cynthia Schneider, PhD

Cynthia Schneider is Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy and Pfizer Medical Humanities Initiative Scholar-in-Residence at Georgetown University. For 20 years Professor Schneider taught Renaissance and baroque art history within the Department of Art, Music and Theater at Georgetown before changing direction to initiate a life science policy center within the Public Policy Institute and to write on and research cultural diplomacy within the School of Foreign Service. These interests arose from Dr. Schneider’s tenure as U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands from 1998 to 2001. In that capacity she led initiatives in the fields of biotechnology, cyber security, military affairs, education, public diplomacy, and culture. The Life Sciences and Society Initiative (LSSI), led by Dr. Schneider, pools and strengthens Georgetown’s resources in the science, ethics, policy, law, and international dimensions of the life sciences to address for the public and the Congress the challenges of the integration of the life sciences into daily life. The Initiative organized the International Life Sciences Summit, held in October 2003, which attracted speakers such as Sen. Orrin Hatch, former FDA Commissioner Mark McClellan, and Dr. Craig Venter, as well as three previous conferences on bioterrorism topics. In addition Dr. Schneider is working on a project for the Rockefeller Foundation, “Ethics Meets the Marketplace: Towards a Model Framework Harnessing the Potential of the Life Sciences to Improve Agriculture and Animal Agriculture in the Developing World”, and she serves on the Advisory Board of the Center for Infectious Diseases at Georgetown. Dr. Schneider is a member of the Board of Advisors of the Rotterdam School of Management at Erasmus University and the Advisory Board of StrawberryFrog, Inc., an international public relations and marketing firm. In addition, she serves on the Board of Governors of the Wesley Theological Seminary, the Board of Directors of the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy, and the International Advisory Board of the Institute for the Study of Europe at Columbia University. She is a non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, Georgetown University, and at the Brookings Institution. From 2001 to 2005, she was a member of the Supervisory Board of the international food conglomerate Royal Ahold. In 2001 she was awarded the Office of the Secretary of Defense Exceptional Public Service Award, the highest civilian award given by the Pentagon.


Ambassador Cynthia P. Schneider | Tel. 202 687 0703 | |