The History and Future of Planetary Threats | Biological Risks and Hazards in the World Today - With Special Focus on Russia and Ukraine
May 4, 2022
12:00 – 1:30 p.m. ET
Biological risks, whether of natural, accidental, or deliberate origin, threaten safety and security across the world and continue to evolve, especially amid the rapid pace of scientific and technological innovation. In this webinar, panelists discussed the health security environment in the post-Soviet states, as assessed by the Global Health Security Index of 2019 and 2021, and the biological risks posed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and associated disinformation campaign.
Jessica Bell and Hayley Severance, of the Nuclear Threat Initiative discussed health security environment across the post-Soviet states. Next we heard from Gregory Koblentz of George Mason University on the evolving biosecurity landscape today. Then Hon. Andrew Weber of the Council on Strategic Risks and former Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Obama Administration discussed what we know and what we don’t know about the Russian Federation’s biological and chemical weapons’ program. Finally, we heard comments from Rebecca Katz of Georgetown University and Ian Lipkin of Columbia University, and closed with audience questions. The webinar was moderated by Wilmot James.
In the History and Future of Planetary Threats series, the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy (ISERP) convenes meetings to examine modern-day catastrophic risks and hazards, whether natural, accident or deliberate, in the following domains: geological, biological, epidemic infectious disease, environmental, chemical, extreme weather, food security, radiological and nuclear, or combinations of these. By catastrophic we understand to mean classes of events that could lead to sudden, extraordinary, widespread disaster beyond the collective capacity of national and international organizations and the private sector to control, causing severe disruptions in normal social functioning, heavy tolls in terms of morbidity and mortality, and major economic losses; in sum, events that may well cause a change in the direction of history. Nuclear falls into a class of its own, because it can result in the annihilation of life on planet earth and the end of history as we know it.
JESSICA A. BELL joined Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) as a senior program officer for global biological policy and programs in February 2019. In this role, she works on projects to strengthen global health security, primarily NTI’s Global Health Security Index.
HAYLEY ANNE SEVERANCE is the deputy vice president for Nuclear Threat Initiative’s Global Biological Policy and Programs team. In that role, she supports and leads the team’s efforts to reduce biological risks that imperil humanity.
GREGORY D. KOBLENTZ is an Associate Professor and Director of the Biodefense Graduate Program at George Mason University's Schar School of Policy and Government. Dr. Koblentz is also a member of the Scientist Working Group on Biological and Chemical Security at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation in Washington, DC.
HONORABLE ANDREW C. “ANDY” WEBER is a Senior Fellow at the Council on Strategic Risks’ Janne E. Nolan Center on Strategic Weapons. Mr. Weber has dedicated his professional life to countering nuclear, chemical, and biological threats and to strengthening global health security. Mr. Weber’s decades of U.S. government service included five-and-a-half years as the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Defense Programs.
REBECCA KATZ is a Professor and Director of the Center for Global Health Science and Security, and holds joint appointments in Georgetown University Medical Center and the School of Foreign Service. She teaches courses on global health diplomacy, global health security, and emerging infectious diseases in the Science, Technology and International Affairs, Security Studies, and Global Infectious Disease Programs.
W. IAN LIPKIN, MD, is the Director of the Center for Solutions for ME/CFS, the John Snow Professor of Epidemiology at the Columbia Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, and the Director for the Center of Infection and Immunity with the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University.
WILMOT JAMES is Senior Research Scholar at ISERP. Dr. James currently serves as Member of the Accessible Medicines Advisory Board of Chimeron Bio; Member of the Board of Resolve to Save Lives; and Co-Chair of the G7 National Frameworks Working Group—Global Partnership and the Africa Signature Initiative on Biosecurity. He also serves as a senior consultant to the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) in biosecurity.
Insitute for Social and Economic Research and Policy, Columbia University
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