Bio-Response Capabilities Report Card

A successful biodefense strategy must be based on rapid and effective response capabilities. Over the past decade, the federal government has invested more than $60 billion in bio-response programs, yet progress has been slow and difficult to measure. Senators Graham and Talent cite two important factors contributing to this lack of progress:  1) there is no strategic leader or agency in charge of bio-response – a complex enterprise spanning more than a dozen federal departments and agencies, as well as state and local actors; and 2) there is no comprehensive assessment of current bio-response capabilities, nor is there consensus on the standards or metrics by which to measure improvement.  The WMD Center’s Bio-Response Report Card seeks to fill that gap.

The Report Card will provide an objective, peer-reviewed, strategic assessment of the bio-response enterprise, and will offer policy recommendations in seven key areas of bio-response. The goal of this bipartisan review is to help inform public policy that ensures measurable progress in the nation’s collective response capability – whether facing an act of bio-terrorism, or a naturally occurring pandemic.

Scope and Methodology

This Report Card will assess categories and sub-categories of the bio-response enterprise, using metrics drawn from evidence-based research and practice.  Metrics will be determined by consensus of a panel of expert advisors for each of the seven categories listed below:

(1) Detection (includes situational awareness and attribution)

(2) Diagnosis

(3) Communicating actionable information

(4) Medical Countermeasures (vaccines and therapeutics)

(5) Distributing/Dispensing Medical Countermeasures

(6) Medical treatment and response

(7) Environmental remediation

Once the project’s Board of Advisors has determined metrics, a separate, independent team of subject matter experts will perform evaluation and analysis of capabilities in each category and subcategory.  This team will include experienced practitioners and other thought leaders from academia, leading think tanks, and private sector organizations that specialize in biodefense, to ensure rigorous review and diverse perspectives. These experts will provide their analyses and insights to the WMD Center Board of Directors, who will make the final determination of grades, recommendations, and report content.

Release of the Report Card

The Report Card will be published in October 2011, marking ten years after the 2001 anthrax attacks. The report will coincide with the release of Contagion, a dramatic, yet realistic Hollywood depiction of a 21st century public health crisis. The ability of a major feature film to help Americans imagine the realities of a bio-threat will complement the objective fact-finding, and assessment of the Bio-Response Capabilities Report Card.

Project Board of Advisors

RADM Kenneth Bernard, MD, (USPHS – Ret), former Senior Political Adviser to the Director-General, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland. Prior to that position, he served in a series of senior policy positions in the United States Government in both the Clinton and Bush (43) Administrations, including: Special Assistant to the President for Biodefense, Homeland Security Council, White House; Special Adviser for Health and Security on the National Security Council (NSC) Staff at the White House; Special Adviser for National Security, Intelligence and Defense for the Secretary of Health and Human Services; Senior Adviser to Senator Bill Frist; and Health Attaché at the U.S. Mission to the UN in Geneva.   Dr. Bernard retired from the U.S. Public Health Service in January 2005 with the rank of Rear Admiral and Assistant Surgeon General.

Louise Gresham, PhD, MPH, Senior Director of the Global Health and Security Initiative at NTI. Dr. Gresham brings expertise in national and international disease surveillance systems with the Middle East Consortium on Infectious Disease Surveillance (MECIDS), Mekong Basin Disease Surveillance (MBDS), U.S. Mexico Border Infectious Disease Surveillance program, and the Southern African Centre for Infectious Disease Surveillance (SACIDS). She is part of a health diplomacy consortium that developed a tuberculosis lab in the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea. Dr. Gresham convenes and secures commitments from international leaders, most recently to create the ambitious global organizational structure, Connecting Health Organizations for Regional Disease Surveillance (CHORDS), and serves as co-chair with the Senior Health Advisor of Thailand. She has nurtured public private partnerships in support of regional disease surveillance efforts and is a member of the SACIDS Scientific Advisory Board. She has extensive experience managing infectious disease surveillance and response activities, syndromic surveillance systems, and policy making, having served as the Senior Epidemiologist for San Diego County’s Health and Human Services Agency. Gresham holds an adjunct Associate Professor appointment, Graduate School of Public Health, San Diego State University and is well published in peer reviewed journals and texts.

Elin Gursky, MSc, ScD is an epidemiologist and public health practitioner. She had held senior positions in local and state governmental public health where she enhanced system-wide capacity to detect, respond to, and contain large-scale disease outbreaks. She has served as a vice president for a 10-acute care hospital system initiating community-wide disease prevention programs.  She has held faculty positions at Johns Hopkins University, and has developed graduate courses and lectured at numerous academic institutions on biosecurity. Dr. Gursky is currently a Fellow and Principal Deputy for Biodefense at ANSER/Analytic Services, Inc. where she heads the Health Security Strategy and Systems portfolio. In the past decade, Dr. Gursky has given over 50 invited talks nationally and internationally and has helped lead two, multi-country NATO-sponsored meetings relating to health security issues with health ministers and senior health leaders. She served on the AAAS Global Security Fellowship Selection Committee from 2005-2007 and in 2011. Dr. Gursky recently served on the Institute of Medicine Committee on the Effectiveness of National Biosurveillance Systems: BioWatch and the Public Health System. She has published over 35 peer-reviewed articles and nine book chapters.  Dr. Gursky received her Doctor of Science degree in 1985 at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She is a Fulbright Senior Specialist by the U.S. Department of State, Council for the International Exchange of Scholars.

Dan Hanfling, MD, is Special Advisor to the Inova Health System in Falls Church, Virginia on matters related to emergency preparedness and disaster response. He is a board certified emergency physician practicing at Inova Fairfax Hospital, Northern Virginia’s Level I trauma center. He also serves as an Operational Medical Director for air medical services and has responsibilities as a Medical Team Manager for Virginia Task Force One, a FEMA/USAID sanctioned international urban search and rescue team. He has been involved in a number of disaster responses, including the Pentagon in September 2001, Hurricanes Rita and Katrina in 2005, Hurricanes Gustav and Ike in 2008, and the Port au Prince, Haiti earthquake in 2010. Dr. Hanfling was integrally involved in the management of the response to the anthrax bioterror mailings in 2001at Inova Fairfax Hospital. Dr. Hanfling is a founding member of the Northern Virginia Hospital Alliance. Dr. Hanfling currently serves as the Vice Chair of the IOM Committee on Establishing Standards of Care in Disaster Events. He is Clinical Professor of Emergency Medicine at George Washington University, Consulting Scholar at the UPMC Center for BioSecurity and adjunct Distinguished Senior Fellow at the George Mason University School of Public Policy.

James J. James, MD, Dr. PH, MHA, is the Director of the American Medical Association’s (AMA’s) Center for Disaster Medicine and Emergency Response, where he is responsible for developing and managing AMA’s comprehensive medical & public health disaster response program.  He is the Editor-in-Chief of Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness, and also works with the US Department of Health and Human Services and with state and local medical societies to coordinate medical and public health agencies’ response to terrorism and other disasters. Dr. James previously served as director of the Miami-Dade County Health Department, where he was responsible for overseeing public health programs throughout the county, and was instrumental in dealing with the anthrax-related incidents that occurred after the September 11th terrorist attacks. Dr. James served for 26 years with the U.S. Army Medical Department in a variety of roles, including surgeon general (Eighth Army, United States Forces Korea) and commanding general (William Beaumont Army Medical Center). He is an epidemiologist and is board-certified in preventive medicine. He holds a doctorate in medicine from the Cincinnati College of Medicine, a doctorate in public health from UCLA School of Public Health, and a master’s degree in health care administration from Baylor University.  Dr. James attended the Armed Forces Staff College and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces.

Arthur Kellermann, MD, is Vice President and Director of RAND Health. Before joining RAND, he was a professor of emergency medicine and public health and served as Associate Dean for Health Policy at the Emory School of Medicine in Atlanta. Kellermann founded Emory’s Department of Emergency Medicine and served as its first chair from 1999 to 2007. A two-term member of the board of directors of the American College of Emergency Physicians, Kellermann was subsequently given the College’s highest award for leadership. He also served on the IOM’s Committee on the Future of Emergency Care in the U.S. Health System and the Committee on Effectiveness of National Biosurveillance Systems: BioWatch and the Public Health System. As a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellow (2006-07) Kellermann worked for the professional staff of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, U.S. House of Representatives.

Gene W. Matthews, JD, serves as the Director of the newly-established Southeastern Regional Center of the Public Health Law Network, one of five regional centers funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.  This program provides legal technical assistance, training, and outreach activities in order to connect and serve individuals and organizations committed to applying the law to improve public health. In addition, Mr. Matthews is a Senior Fellow at the North Carolina Institute for Public Health, the service and outreach arm of the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health.  Mr. Matthews has recently lead an innovative national public/private partnership initiative, funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to successfully develop common legal preparedness agendas regarding liability laws during emergencies. He also teaches courses on leadership in health law and ethics for the UNC Doctoral Program in Health Leadership. Prior to taking these positions, Mr. Matthews served as the chief legal advisor to the CDC in Atlanta from 1979 to 2004, directing a legal staff that grew to 30 persons.  During that 25-year span, he handled a wide range of precedent-setting public health law issues and litigated key public health lawsuits and civil discovery cases. In June 2004, Mr. Matthews received the Distinguished Career Award of the Public Health Law Association.

Paula J. Olsiewski, PhD, directs the Indoor Environment and Biosecurity programs as well as the Synthetic Biology Initiative at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. She was a member of the NRC Committee on Advances in Technology and the Prevention of Their Application to Next Generation Biowarfare Threats, which produced the “Globalization, Biosecurity, and the Future of Life Sciences” Report (2006).  Prior to joining the Foundation, Dr. Olsiewski served in many capacities in the biotech and biomedical community. She directed the New York City Biotechnology Initiative, a state-funded program under the auspices of the New York Biotechnology Association, and worked for nine years at Enzo Biochem, Inc., a publicly traded biotechnology company, where she directed commercial development activities for a variety of in vitro diagnostic products.

Mary Pendergast, JD, LLM, is the President of Pendergast Consulting, that provides legal and regulatory advice to biopharmaceutical companies, patient groups, professional and advocacy organizations, governments, and academic and financial institutions. Prior to forming her own consulting business, she served as Executive Vice President, Government Affairs at Elan Corporation, where she was involved in significant regulatory, strategic and government issues. From 1990 to 1998, Ms. Pendergast was the deputy commissioner and senior adviser to the commissioner at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) involved in FDA’s efforts to regulate emerging areas, such as biotechnology, cellular and tissue-based therapies, genetic testing, xeno-transplantation, and acute-care research and served as FDA’s “crisis manager,” handling sensitive and precent-setting situations. Ms. Pendergast has served as associate chief counsel for enforcement at the FDA from 1979 to 1990 and as attorney, Office of the General Counsel, Department of Health and Human Services from 1977 to 1979.

MG Philip K. Russell, MD, (USA – ret), is the Founding President of the Albert B. Sabin Vaccine Institute. During his military career, Dr. Russell conducted research on a variety of infectious diseases of importance to the military and managed several vaccine development programs. Military assignments included several positions at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, including Chief of the Department of Virus Diseases, Director of the Division of Communicable Diseases, Deputy Director and Institute Director and Commandant. Following military service he was appointed Professor in the Department of International Health at the Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health. Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, Dr. Russell returned to government as the Acting Director, Office of Research and Development Coordination, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Public Health Emergency Preparedness, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Thomas C. Voltaggio has thirty six years of comprehensive experience in multiple aspects of environmental management at the federal level, including executive level leadership, scientific and technical management, budgeting and analysis, enforcement and compliance, biological and chemical environmental emergency response, homeland security terrorism response processes and operations and information management and technology. From its inception, and for more than 17 years, successfully directed the “Superfund” hazardous waste site cleanup program of the USEPA in the Middle Atlantic States through more than 500 complete cleanups by 1997. Managed the nation’s largest biochemical terrorism response when EPA was called upon to clean up the Anthrax contamination on Capitol Hill in the fall of 2001. Trained as a Principal Federal Official (PFO) under the National Response Plan by the Department of Homeland Security and was named Deputy Principal Federal Official (DPFO) for the New Jersey venue of the TOPOFF3 national exercise in 2005. Participated fully in TOPOFF3 as the DPFO. Deployed to New Orleans as EPA’s Senior Federal Official at the national response to Hurricane Katrina.