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Biosecur Bioterror. 2005;3(4):295-308.

Biological threat characterization research: a critical component of national biodefense.

Author information

1
Joint Military Intelligence College, Bolling AFB, Washington, DC 20340-5100, USA. jbpetro@hotmail.com

Abstract

Biological warfare (BW) threat assessments identify and prioritize BW threats to civilian and military populations. In an ideal world, they provide policymakers with clear and compelling guidance to prioritize biodefense research, development, testing, evaluation, and acquisition of countermeasures. Unfortunately, the biodefense community does not exist in an ideal world. National security professionals responsible for crafting BW threat assessments often are challenged by factors that limit the clarity and/or timeliness of those assessments. Moreover, the potential for life science advances to enhance threats enabled by state programs and the possibility that non-state actors may pursue crude but effective BW methodologies will drastically expand the scope of the perceived threat. Appropriate investment of federal biodefense funds will require some mechanism for validating and prioritizing present and future threats. Ideally, such a mechanism will incorporate empirical data targeted to elucidate actual hazards. In this regard, the Department of Homeland Security's creation of a Biological Threat Characterization Program for the technical validation of threat agents will be a valuable addition to the nation's overall biodefense strategy. This article articulates the need for a coordinated national biological threat characterization program, discusses some of the principal challenges associated with such research, and suggests a few options for their resolution.

PMID:
16366839
DOI:
10.1089/bsp.2005.3.295
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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