Biodefense R&D: Anticipating Future Threats, Establishing a Strategic Environment

Bradley T. Smith, Thomas V. Inglesby, Tara O'Toole


Biosecur Bioterror. 2003;1(3) 

In This Article


The ultimate objective of the U.S. civilian biodefense strategy should be to eliminate the possibility of massively lethal bioterrorist attacks. A central pillar of this strategy must be an ambitious and aggressive scientific research, development, and production (R&D&P) program that delivers the diagnostic technologies, medicines, and vaccines needed to counter the range of bioweapons agents that might be used against the nation. A successful biodefense strategy must take account of the rapidly expanding spectrum of bioweapons agents and means of delivery made possible by 21st century advances in bioscientific knowledge and biotechnology. Meeting this challenge will require the engagement of America's extraordinary scientific talent and investments of financial and political capital on a scale far beyond that now committed or contemplated. The purpose of this article is to provide a brief analysis of the current biomedical R&D&P environment and to offer recommendations for the establishment of a national biodefense strategy that could significantly diminish the suffering and loss that would accompany bioterrorist attacks. In the longer term, a robust biodefense R&D&P effort, if coupled to substantial improvements in medical and public health systems, could conceivably render biological weapons ineffective as agents of mass lethality.


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