Biological Issues


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Biosecurity Implications for the Synthesis of Horsepox, an Orthopoxvirus November 3, 2017 — This article examines the biosecurity and biodefense implications resulting from the recent creation of horsepox virus, a noncirculating (extinct) species of orthopoxvirus. Here we examine the technical aspects of the horsepox virus synthesis and conclude that orthopox synthesis experiments currently remain technically challenging—and will continue to be so, even once this work is published in the scientific literature. MORE

Options for Synthetic DNA Order Screening, Revisited October 3, 2017 — DNA synthesis is a valuable research tool in the design of new biological products for medicine and manufacturing, and the ability to chemically synthesize long tracts of DNA has allowed for the development of influenza vaccines and diagnostic tests. MORE

The Department of Defense Chemical and Biological Defense Program: An Enabler of the Third Offset Strategy April 14, 2017 — The US Department of Defense (DOD) established programs to defend against chemical and biological weapons 100 years ago because military leaders understood that the operational capability of the US military is diminished when service member health is compromised. These threats to operational readiness can be from an overt attack using chemical and MORE

In Good Health? The Biological Weapons Convention and the “Medicalization” of Security November 3, 2015 — Since the 1990s, the group of stakeholders working to combat biological weapons (BW) proliferation has broadened to include new actors who have not traditionally focused on security issues, including organizations from the public health sector, researchers in the life sciences, and the biosafety community. This has had significant benefits for the MORE

The History of Biological Weapons Use: What We Know and What We Don’t July 1, 2015 — This article critically reviews the literature on the history of biological warfare, bioterrorism, and biocrimes. The first serious effort to review this entire history, made in 1969, had numerous limitations. In recent decades, several authors have filled many of the gaps in our understanding of the past use of biological agents (including both MORE

President Nixon’s Decision to Renounce the U.S. Offensive Biological Weapons Program October 1, 2009 — The nuclear arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union was a prominent feature of the Cold War. A lesser known but equally dangerous element of the superpower competition involved biological weapons (BW), living microorganisms that cause fatal or incapacitating diseases in humans, animals, or plants. By the late 1960s, the United MORE

Are We Prepared? Four WMD Crises That Could Transform U.S. Security June 1, 2009 — This report, written by the staff of the National Defense University Center for the Study of Weapons of Mass Destruction in the fall of 2008 and the early winter of 2009, was conceived initially as a transition paper for the new administration following the 2008 American Presidential election. This report presents four weapons of mass destruction MORE

Toward a National Biodefense Strategy April 1, 2003 — The United States is re-learning an important lesson in the first decade of the 21st century: adversaries may attack the United States, its interests, or those of friends and allies with biological weapons (BW). The last century witnessed the purported use of glanders by the Germans in World War I and the use of dysentery, plague, and typhus by the MORE

Anthrax in America: A Chronology and Analysis of the Fall 2001 Anthrax Attacks November 1, 2002 — This paper describes the 2001 anthrax attacks on the United States and provides a one-year snapshot of the attacks and subsequent response. MORE

Adversary Use of NBC Weapons: A Neglected Challenge December 1, 2001 — This article describes how thinking regarding how an adversary might use nuclear, radiological, biological, or chemical weapons against the United States changed in the last decade of the 20th century. MORE

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