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Our meetings provide a national forum for leaders in the field to explore and discuss priorities, challenges, and policy implications in health security.

India

INDIA-US BIOSECURITY DIALOGUE

8-9 February 2017 

Shangri-La Hotel, New Delhi, India

 

The UPMC Center for Health Security hosted the second meeting of a bilateral biosecurity dialogue between delegates representing the United States and India. This effort was supported by the Project on Advanced Systems and Concepts for Countering WMD (currently affiliated with the US Air Force Institute for National Security Studies), and sponsored by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. The meeting took place in New Delhi, India and included discussions on the biosecurity landscapes of the US and India, the life sciences and biotechnology, biosafety-strengthening efforts at laboratories, risk assessment, biological threat characterization, and cross-sector collaboration for mitigating biological threats.

 

8 February 2017

 

9:30 – 09:45 Welcome, Goals for Meeting, and Introductions

 

Dr. S. R. Rao, Advisor, Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science & Technology, Government of India 

Dr. Tom Inglesby, Director, Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security

 

9:45 – 10:15 Inaugural Remarks: Dr. Krishnaswamy VijyaRaghavan, Secretary, Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science & Technology, Government of India

 

10:15 – 11:15 Dialogue Session One:  National Outlook on Biosecurity and Security 

 

Biosecurity concerns and challenges change over time, and are addressed within the context of other political priorities. In this opening session, we will discuss how each country views concerns related to biosecurity threats and challenges – natural and deliberate. Is preparedness for biological threats considered of importance to each country’s own national security? What are considered the most important elements of preventing and preparing for major biological threats?   How was the outcome of the Biological Weapons Convention perceived?  What geopolitical issues are affecting those priorities? To what extent are biological risks perceived to come from states vs. groups (or individuals)?  What do you think of the efforts of the UN Security Council to fight international WMD terrorism, including bio?  This session will also explore historical contexts underlying biosecurity practices in both countries. A representative from each country will provide opening remarks (5-7 minutes) on this topic, followed by a discussion by all participants.

Opening Remarks:  Ambassador Rakesh Sood; Dr. David Franz

 

11:15 - 11:30 Coffee Break

 

11:30 – 12:30 Dialogue Session Two:  Dual-use Issues in the Life Sciences 

 

Emerging biotechnologies are profoundly important to India and the US for medicine, health, and for economic development. These developments are accompanied by the opportunity to develop more effective medical countermeasures and public health measures (such as using gene drives to reduce mosquito populations), but also increased risks for the potential for new weapons and for consequential accidents. There are also concerns about misuse. How do the US and India see the future of biotechnology changing the potential risks of misuse? How does each country now manage these new risks? What new approaches might be needed in the future?  In light of these trends, how should each country go about making strategic investments in biosecurity? A representative from each country will provide opening remarks (5-7 minutes) on this topic, followed by a discussion by all participants.

Opening Remarks:  Dr. Subodh Kumar, Dr. Sarah Carter

 

12:30 – 1:30 Lunch in TAMRA Restaurant, Shangri-La Hotel

 

1:30 – 2:30 Dialogue Session Three:  Biosecurity & Biosafety in Laboratories

 

This session will focus on the future of biosafety in India and the US. What are the most pressing biosafety issues in India and in the US, and how does each view biosafety problems on the horizon? How much political attention is paid to biosafety? How can collaborations between the US and India better serve the future incorporation of biosafety principles into scientific work and scientific training? How is biosecurity prioritized relative to biosafety? What scientific practices or training is concerning to you from a biosafety perspective, taking place anywhere in the world? A representative from each country will provide opening remarks (5-7 minutes) on this topic, followed by a discussion by all participants.

Opening Remarks: Dr. Siva Reddy, Dr. Jayati Mullick, Dr. Maureen O’Leary

 

2:30 – 3:00 Group Photo, and board bus

 

3:00 – 6:00 Visit to the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) and Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU)

 

6:00 Meeting Adjourns

 

6:00 Dinner Caraway Restaurant, The Grand New Delhi

 

 

9 February, 2017

 

9:30 – 10:45 Dialogue Session Four: Emerging Infectious Diseases, Preparedness and the Scientific Response

This discussion will explore approaches for early detection and surveillance in response to new outbreaks, opportunities to improve international collaboration on these issues, and the scientific response to emerging infectious diseases.  What has been learned in the response to SARS, MERS, novel flu, Ebola, and/or Zika?  What disease containment lessons emerge from these outbreaks?  What are priority areas in terms of building national response capacity, and building the technical capacity to mount an effective response? What is the perception of progress made and future action needed to adhere to the International Health Regulations and the Global Health Security Agenda?  A representative from each country will provide opening remarks (5-10 minutes) on this topic, followed by a discussion by all participants.

Opening Remarks:  Dr. Sudhanshu Vrati, Dr. Dan Hanfling

 

10:45 – 11:00 Coffee Break

 

11:30 - 12:45 Dialogue Session Five: Risk Assessment and Reduction of Future Biological Threats for the Modern Age

In this session, we will discuss how the US and India can diminish biosecurity risks through scientific engagement (for example, as it has been envisaged through US biological threat reduction and engagement programs). How does each country undertake risk assessment for biological risks, and is that risk assessment connected to policy and to resource allocation? How are opportunities to prevent biosecurity risks perceived as policy options, and are there policies that are intended to reduce future risks? This discussion will consider the role of collaborative relationships between scientists, public health practitioners, and the security community intended to reduce or prevent biosecurity risks. 

Opening Remarks:  Dr. S.R. Rao, Dr. Ravi Khetrapal, Dr. David Franz

 

12:45 – 2:00 Lunch in TAMRA Restaurant, Shangri-La Hotel 

 

2:10 – 3:15 Dialogue Session Six: Productive Engagement and Collaboration 

 

This discussion will explore how India and the US can productively collaborate and foster engagement on biosecurity issues. Collaborations could include formal and less-formal opportunities to collectively and collaboratively reduce the threat of emerging infectious diseases such as MERS and new influenza viruses, deliberate and accidental misuse of biological research, risk assessment, and/or opportunities to increase the likelihood of early intervention, attribution, and resolution of an outbreak. What challenges or opportunities should receive Track 1 attention by India and the US but are not as yet? A representative from each country will provide opening remarks (5 minutes) on this topic, followed by a discussion by all participants.

Opening Remarks:  Dr. Indira Nath, Dr. David Rakestraw 

 

3:15 – 4:00 Proposals for Future Biosecurity Dialogue Topics

 

Group Discussion about topics for discussion for the next meeting.

 

4:00 Meeting Adjourns