Gerald Epstein

Distinguished Research Fellow


Dr. Gerald Epstein joined National Defense University’s Center for the Study of Weapons of Mass Destruction in July 2018 as a Distinguished Research Fellow.  In that capacity he addresses challenges posed by nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, particularly including the security implications of advanced life sciences, biotechnologies, and other emerging and converging technologies.  Prior to arriving at National Defense University (NDU), he served as Assistant Director for Biosecurity and Emerging Technologies at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), where he served on detail from his position as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Policy at the Department of Homeland Security.

Before returning to government service in 2012, Dr. Epstein directed the Center for Science, Technology, and Security Policy at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), which he joined in 2009.  Prior positions include Senior Fellow for Science and Security at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (2003 – 2009) and Research Staff Member at the Institute for Defense Analyses (2001 – 2003).  Dr. Epstein previously served in the White House from 1996 to 2001, ultimately in a joint appointment as Assistant Director of OSTP for National Security and Senior Director for Science and Technology on the National Security Council staff.

From 1983 to 1989 and again from 1991 until its demise in 1995, he worked at the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment, where he directed a landmark study on the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and worked on other international security and defense technology topics.  From 1989 to 1991, he directed a project at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government on the relationship between civil and military technologies, and he is a co-author of Beyond Spinoff: Military and Commercial Technologies in a Changing World (Harvard Business School Press, 1992).  He also created and taught courses on arms control and nonproliferation at Princeton University, and on science, technology, and homeland security at Georgetown University.

Dr. Epstein is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the AAAS and is a member of the editorial boards for the journals Health Security and Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology.  He has served on the Biological Threats Panel of the National Academy of Sciences’ Committee on International Security and Arms Control as well as on the National Academies’ Committee on Science, Security, and Prosperity, which produced the report Beyond Fortress America: National Security Controls on Science and Technology in a Globalized World (Washington DC; National Academy Press, 2009).  He received S.B. degrees in physics and in electrical engineering from MIT and a Ph.D. in physics from the University of California at Berkeley.