Building the Biodefense Policy Workforce (2009)

Following 9/11 and the anthrax letters in 2001, the field of biodefense significantly expanded to address global health, public health preparedness and response, medical countermeasure development, and civilian biological research, some of which includes select agents. The increasing investment in biodefense and concern about a bioterrorism attack within the United States and abroad suggests that the landscape for biodefense policy issues and workforce needs continue to evolve. During the past year alone, concerns about oversight of high-containment laboratories; vetting of personnel (personnel reliability); the efficacy of security measures in place for the select agent program; medical countermeasure research, development and distribution; bioterrorism and pandemic influenza preparedness; misuse of beneficial biological research and technologies; and microbial forensics have generated several policy evaluations and prompted the development of policy recommendations and legislation. Both governmental and non-governmental experts were, and continue to be, influential during this policy process. Although there exist several biodefense education and training programs as well as fellowships, there is still a critical need to educate the next generation of policy experts and scientists about these issues and encourage their involvement in the development of biodefense policies.