In Sept. 2022, the Bulletin launched a year-long taskforce composed of globally recognized experts to generate new thinking on responsible high-risk pathogen research.
The taskforce members and leaders are below. Tap or hover on their image to learn more.
Ravi Gupta is professor of clinical microbiology at Cambridge University. Gupta has worked in HIV drug resistance both at molecular and population levels, and his work led to change in WHO treatment guidelines for HIV. He led the study demonstrating HIV cure in the ‘London Patient’ – the world’s only living HIV cure. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Gupta has deployed his expertise in RNA virus genetics and biology to report early evidence for immune escape of SARS-CoV-2 within an individual. More recently Gupta defined the replication advantage of the Delta variant and the tropism shift and immune escape of Omicron. Gupta has advised the UK government on COVID-19 through SAGE and NERVTAG and in 2020 appeared in the list of 100 most influential people by TIME.
Gurib-Fakim served as the 6th and first female president of the Republic of Mauritius (2015-2018). Prior to that, she has been the managing director of the Centre International de Développement Pharmaceutique (CIDP) Research and Innovation as well as Professor of Organic Chemistry with an endowed chair at the University of Mauritius. Since 2001, she has served successively as Dean of the Faculty of Science and Pro Vice Chancellor. She has also worked at the Mauritius Research Council as Manager for Research. Ms Gurib-Fakim earned a BSc in Chemistry from the University of Surrey and a PhD from the University of Exeter, UK.
Dr. Shahid Jameel is the Sultan Qaboos bin Said Fellow at Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies and Research Fellow, Green Templeton College, University of Oxford. He serves as the Principal Investigator for the Centre's project on Public Health, Science and Technology in Muslim societies. Previously he was the director of the Trivedi School of Biosciences at Ashoka University. He was formerly head of the scientific advisory group to the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortia. Jameel is an elected fellow of all the three major Indian science academies. The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, awarded him the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize for Science and Technology, one of the highest Indian science awards, for his contributions to Medical Sciences in 2000.
David A. Relman is the Thomas C. and Joan M. Merigan professor in medicine and a professor of Microbiology & Immunology at Stanford University and chief of infectious diseases at the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System. He is senior fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford and previously served as the Center’s science co-director. Relman served as president of the Infectious Diseases Society of America and as chair of the Forum on Microbial Threats at the US National Academies of Science and is currently a member of the Defense Science Board for the US Department of Defense and the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. He was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 2011 and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in 2022.
Jesse Bloom is a professor at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center and an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. His lab uses a combination of experiments and computation to study the evolution of viruses such as influenza and SARS-CoV-2. A major focus of his research is to use high-throughput approaches to define which viral mutations can affect sensitivity to antibodies. The goal is to use these insights to better understand viral evolution and design vaccines.
Filippa Lentzos is a reader (associate professor) in Science & International Security at King’s College London, where she is jointly appointed in the Department of War Studies and the Department of Global Health & Social Medicine. A biologist and social scientist by training, Lentzos’ research critically examines biological threats, health security, biorisk management and biological arms control, and she has written widely on these issues. Lentzos serves as the Director of the King’s MA in Science & International Security. She is also an associate senior researcher at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), a non-resident scholar at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS), and she serves as the NGO coordinator for the Biological Weapons Convention.
Dr. Anurag Agrawal is Dean, BioSciences and Health Research, Trivedi School of Biosciences, Ashoka University, India, and former director of the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, a national laboratory of CSIR, India. His primary research is in respiratory biology and broader interests are in a new vision of health and healthcare seen through the lenses of emerging technologies. He serves on numerous national and global advisory groups, recently chairing the World Health Organization technical advisory group for viral evolution, the Lancet-Financial Times commission for governing digital health futures, and serving on the pandemic preparedness subgroup at the Global Partnership for Artificial Intelligence.
Dr. AL-Hmoud has served as the director of the Biosafety and Biosecurity Centre at the Royal Scientific Society of Jordan since October 2015. As a scientist, Dr. AL-Hmoud is motivated to provide research that focuses on the public good; her research emphasis is the preservation of human health and biodiversity. During the last fifteen years, Dr. AL-Hmoud has dedicated her research to the development of scientific capacity in the fields of water & food safety and security and evaluation of environmental risks for scientists, government agencies, local communities and non-governmental organizations in Jordan and in the Middle East and North Africa region. Dr. AL-Hmoud is actively contributing to biorisk management capacity building programs nationally and regionally.
Françoise Baylis, CM, ONS, PhD, FRSC, FCAHS, FISC is distinguished research professor, Dalhousie University, Canada. Baylis is a philosopher whose innovative work at the intersection of policy and practice, aims to move the limits of mainstream bioethics and to develop more effective ways to understand and tackle global public policy challenges. Baylis is the author of Altered Inheritance: CRISPR and the Ethics of Human Genome Editing, which won the 2020 PROSE Award in Clinical Medicine. In 2021, she was a member of WHO working groups on a global guidance framework for the responsible use of life sciences. That same year she was elected to the Governing Board of the International Science Council. In 2022, Baylis was awarded the Killam Prize for the Humanities.
Professor Agnes Binagwaho, MD, M(Ped), PhD, is the vice chancellor and co-founder of the University of Global Health Equity, an initiative of Partners in Health. She previously worked as the executive secretary of Rwanda's National AIDS Control Commission, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Health, and Minister of Health. She is a professor of pediatrics at UGHE, a senior lecturer at Harvard Medical School, and an adjunct clinical professor at Dartmouth. She is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Medicine, the African Academy of Sciences and the World Academy of Sciences. She was named among the 100 Most Influential African Women for 2020 and 2021 and is a recipient of the 2022 L'Oréal-UNESCO Awards for Women in Science.
Sylvie Briand is the director of the Global Infectious Hazard Preparedness (GIH), WHO Emergency Preparedness (WPE) at the World Health Organization (WHO/WHE), where she advances global efforts to prevent and control existing and emerging infectious diseases by increasing access to evidence-based interventions; fostering impactful innovation; and leveraging technical, operational and strategic partnerships. The scope of GIH includes COVID-19 but also other dangerous pathogens. Since 2001, Dr Briand has been actively involved in the detection, preparedness and response to global threats, leading the scientific and strategic component of the WHO response (avian and pandemic influenza, Ebola, Zika, Plague, yellow fever, cholera, MERS).
Dr. Rocco Casagrande is a founder and chair of the board of Gryphon Scientific, a life sciences consultancy. With a degree from Cornell in biology and chemistry and an MIT PhD in biology, Dr. Casagrande applies quantitative and systematic analysis to tackle daunting problems to manage scientific risks. The work of Dr. Casagrande and his team have formed the basis of the US Government’s and WHO’s policies on biosecurity and biosafety, including the US policy on the oversight on research on pathogens with pandemic potential and the design and operations of high containment laboratories. Currently, Dr. Casagrande is focused on generating data to inform biorisk management and improve biosafety in containment laboratories.
Dr. Alina Chan is a scientific advisor and viral vector engineer at the Broad Institute of MIT & Harvard. Dr. Chan is a Broad Ignite fellow and a recent Human Frontier Science Program fellow with a background in medical genetics, synthetic biology, and genetic engineering. Her research has been focused on creating next generation vectors for human gene therapy. During the pandemic, Dr. Chan began to investigate problems relevant to finding the origin of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and spearheaded the development of the COVID-19 CoV Genetics (covidcg.org) browser for scientists worldwide to rapidly track virus lineages and mutations by locations and date ranges of interest.
George Fu Gao is a member (academician) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), international member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and foreign membership of the U.K. Royal Society (RS). He also serves as vice president, National Natural Science Foundation of China, and professor of Institute of Microbiology, CAS. Gao obtained his DPhil degree from Oxford University, UK and did his postdoc work in both Oxford University and Harvard University. His researches focus on pathogen microbiology and immunology. Gao is a leading scientist in the field of virology and immunology in China and worldwide, and he has long been engaged in the research of transmission of pathogenic microorganisms.
Asha George is the executive director of the Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense and a member of the Bulletin’s Science and Security Board. George served in the US House of Representatives as a senior professional staffer and subcommittee staff director at the House Committee on Homeland Security in the 110th and 111th Congress. George also served on active duty in the US Army as a military intelligence officer and a paratrooper. She is a decorated Desert Storm Veteran. She holds a BA in Natural Sciences from Johns Hopkins University, a MS in Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a Doctorate in Public Health from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She is also a graduate of the Harvard University National Preparedness Leadership Initiative.
David Heymann is a medical epidemiologist and professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at LSHTM. He was previously chair of Public Health England and led the Centre on Global Health Security at Chatham House (London). In 2003, he headed the WHO global response to SARS. Heymann was a member of the CDC (Atlanta) team to investigate the first Ebola outbreak in DRC. He has published over 250 peer reviewed articles and book chapters, is editor of the Control of Communicable Diseases Manual, and is an elected member of the UK Academy of Medical Sciences and the US National Academy of Medicine. In 2009 he was named an Honorary Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for services to global health.
Clare Jolly is a professor at University College London. Her research is focussed on the cell biology of virus infection and virus-host interactions. Specifically, her lab seeks to understand how pandemic HIV-1 and SARS-CoV-2 hijack host cells to successfully replicate while avoiding antiviral defences. During the pandemic, Jolly applied her expertise in working with HIV-1 at high-containment and pivoted to SARS-CoV-2 research. Working with a team of UK and international collaborators, her group discovered mechanism of innate immune sensing of SARS-CoV-2 by human cells, and showed how the Alpha variant evolved enhanced innate immune evasion, linking adaptation to host with variant dominance, and genotype to phenotype. Jolly obtained her BSc (Hons) and PhD from the University of Melbourne, Australia.
Dr Thomas Kariuki is Executive Director of the Science for Africa (SFA) Foundation. SFA Foundation is a non-profit, pan-African organization, that supports, strengthens and promotes science and innovation in Africa. An internationally recognized immunologist, Dr Kariuki leads Science for Africa foundation's programmatic activities to accelerate world-class research, foster innovation, and promote scientific leadership on the continent and oversees the funding of research and development of novel, high-impact STI solutions for the continent. He has been published widely and is a recipient of several international grants awards.
Jens Kuhn is a principal at Tunnell Government Services (TGS), Bethesda, MD, USA, tasked as one of two Principal Scientists and the Director of Virology (contractor) at the NIH/NIAID/DCR/Integrated Research Facility at Fort Detrick (IRF-Frederick), a biosafety level 4 (BSL-4) facility in Frederick, MD, USA. Dr. Kuhn specializes in highly virulent viral human and animal pathogens. He is the author of “Filoviruses: A Compendium of 40 Years of Epidemiological, Clinical, and Laboratory Studies” (Vienna: Springer, 2008) and co-author of “The Soviet Biological Weapons Program—A History” (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2012), and he has studied and worked in Germany, Italy, Malta, Russia, South Africa, and South Korea.
Poh Lian Lim
Poh Lian Lim is Director of the High-Level Isolation Unit, National Centre for Infectious Diseases Singapore, Head of the Travellers’ Health and Vaccination Clinic, Tan Tock Seng Hospital, and Senior Consultant with the Ministry of Health Singapore. Dr Lim’s extensive clinical and public health experience is in the areas of outbreak preparedness and response, emerging and novel pathogens, travel medicine, and vaccines. She has served on WHO’s GOARN Steering Committee and the UN Secretary General’s Global Health Crises taskforce, chaired the WHO Technical Advisory Group for the Health Security Interface, and currently chairs the Independent Allocation of Vaccines Group for the COVAX Facility.
W. Ian Lipkin
W. Ian Lipkin is the director for the Center of Infection and Immunity and John Snow Professor of Epidemiology with the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, director for the Global Alliance for Preventing Pandemics (GAPP), and director of the Center for Solutions for ME/CFS. He is internationally recognized for global public health contributions by being at the forefront of outbreak response and through the innovative methods developed for infectious diseases diagnosis, surveillance, and discovery. Lipkin consulted on COVID-19 protocols for the 2020 Democratic National Convention and the 2021 Academy Awards and served as scientific advisor to the film “Contagion”.
López-Vergès is a Senior Researcher, Gorgas Memorial Institute / Associated Professor at Universidad de Panamá Molecular epidemiology, cellular virology, immunology of viral diseases. Her research focuses on understanding the virological and immunological factors shaping the emergence of viruses and the severity of diseases associated with viral infection in humans. To answer these questions her research integrates clinical, virological, cellular, molecular and immunological approaches and a continued collaboration with researchers from other fields like medicine, epidemiology, entomology and statistics. The ultimate goal is to identify biomarkers of infection or disease severity that will be used to guide clinical management of patients, as well as to develop new effective treatments and vaccines.
Suzet McKinney is the principal and director of Life Sciences for Sterling Bay. She is also a member of the Bulletin’s Science and Security Board. She previously served as CEO and executive director of the Illinois Medical District. In 2020, Dr. McKinney was appointed by IL Governor JB Pritzker as Operations Lead for the State of Illinois’ Alternate Care Facilities, a network of alternate medical locations designed to decompress the hospital system during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. McKinney holds her Doctorate degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health, her BA from Brandeis University, and her MPH and certificates in Managed Care and Health Care Administration from Benedictine University in Lisle, IL.
Megan Palmer is the Executive Director of Bio Policy & Leadership Initiatives at Stanford University (Bio-polis). In this role, Dr. Palmer leads integrated research, teaching and engagement programs to explore how biological science and engineering is shaping our societies, and to guide innovation to serve public interests. Based in the Department of Bioengineering, she works closely both with groups across the university and with stakeholders in academia, government, industry and civil society around the world.
Volker Thiel has worked since the 1990s on basic aspects of coronavirus replication, immune responses, and virus-host interactions. Many of his studies included highly pathogenic coronaviruses such as SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2. Since 2014 he has led the virology division at the Institute of Virology and Immunology (IVI) in Bern and Mittelhäusern and served as chair of virology at the Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Bern. He is co-chair of the Multidisciplinary Center for Infectious Diseases (MCID), a strategic center of the University of Bern for pandemic preparedness. Thiel is a member of the National Swiss Biosafety Expert Committee and has served during the pandemic as a member of the Swiss National Science Task Force and the WHO Technical Advisory Group on SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution.
Dr. Weiwen Zhang is a distinguished professor of Synthetic Biology & Biochemical Engineering; director of Laboratory of Synthetic Microbiology, School of Chemical Engineering & Technology, and founding director of the Center for Biosafety Research and Strategy (CBRS) at Tianjin University of China. Dr. Zhang graduated from Chinese Academy of Sciences with a doctoral degree in microbiology. Prior to joining Tianjin University, Dr. Zhang was a senior principal investigator with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy. Dr. Zhang is currently chief scientist for the National Key R&D Research Program of China - Synthetic Biology program, and chief investigator for the Key Strategic Project of the Chinese Association for Science and Technology on dual-use biotechnology governance.
Mayra Ameneiros is a research associate at King´s College London, Centre for Science and Security Studies at the Department of War Studies. She is an Emerging Leader in Biosecurity Initiative Fellow through Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and an Arms Control Negotiation Academy Fellow through Harvard University's Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies. Ameneiros is deputy coordinator for the Next Generation Global Health Security Network. She is a certified professional in Biorisk Management and Biosecurity from the International Federation of Biosafety Associations and holds a BSc in Biochemistry, a MSc in transfusion medicine and immunohematology, and a postgraduate degree in international security. She is a member of the WHO's Technical Advisory Group on Health Security Interface.
Becca Earnhardt is a Presidential Scholar and PhD student in the Biodefense program at the Schar School for Policy and Government at George Mason University. Prior to joining the Biodefense PhD program, Earnhardt was a Faculty Specialist in the Unconventional Weapons and Technology Division at the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, and a Research Associate with the Nuclear Security Program at the Stimson Center. Her current research focuses on biorisk management, health security, and CBRN terrorism. Earnhardt holds a B.A. in Political Science and a B.A. in Homeland Security/Emergency Preparedness from Virginia Commonwealth University, and a M.S. in Biodefense from George Mason University.
Halley Posner is the program manager for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. She was part of the 2021 cohort of the Nuclear Scholars Initiative at the Center for Strategic Studies’ Project on Nuclear Issues and recently was a fellow with N Square Collaborative. Posner holds a BA in history from Bates College, where she was also the editor-in-chief of the student-run newspaper, The Bates Student. Academically, she focused on nonproliferation, deterrence, and asymmetric warfare theory. In addition to her Bulletin work, Posner is pursuing a Master of Public Administration at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.