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The Center for Biosecurity Commends the New Obama Administration’s Commitment to Strengthening Biosecurity

JANUARY 21, 2009 — Baltimore, MD — The Center for Biosecurity of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) welcomes the new administration’s commitment to strengthening biosecurity as part of President Obama’s agenda for homeland security, which is detailed on the new website.

President Obama’s agenda for homeland security includes a commitment to strengthening American biosecurity: “Biological weapons pose a serious and increasing national security risk” and the new Administration will “work to prevent bioterror attacks and mitigate consequences.”  

It also listed top goals and principles for the new Administration’s biosecurity efforts: 

  • Prevent Bioterror Attacks: Strengthen U.S. intelligence collection overseas to identify and interdict would-be bioterrorists before they strike.
  • Build Capacity to Mitigate the Consequences of Bioterror Attacks: Ensure that decision makers have the information and communication tools they need to manage disease outbreaks by linking healthcare providers, hospitals, and public health agencies. A well-planned, well-rehearsed, and rapidly executed epidemic response can dramatically diminish the consequences of biological attacks.
  • Accelerate the Development of New Medicines, Vaccines, and Production Capabilities: Build on America's unparalleled talent to create new drugs, vaccines, and diagnostic tests and to manufacture them more quickly and efficiently.
  • Lead an International Effort to Diminish Impact of Major Infectious Disease Epidemics: Promote international efforts to develop new diagnostics, vaccines, and medicines that will be available and affordable in all parts of the world.

“President Obama and his Administration should be highly commended for recognizing the serious challenges posed by deliberate and natural biological threats and setting forth goals to address these challenges,” said Tara O’Toole, MD, MPH, CEO of the Center for Biosecurity of UPMC. “They have clearly recognized that we must deal directly with these threats. But what they also understand is that the solutions to these problems will help in the fight against infectious diseases at home and abroad, in the advancement of science, and in strengthening a critical high tech area of the U.S. economy.”
This announcement occurs less than 1 week after the House Appropriations Committee passed the Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act that provides funding for many of these goals, including substantial funding for biomedical advanced research and development for pandemic flu and manmade biological threats, as well as funding for electronic health records that could be used to improve epidemic surveillance.
“We are in the midst of a biological sciences revolution with new discoveries streaming out of our universities and laboratories,” said O’Toole. “The Obama Administration has signaled it will strongly support our scientific institutions, and it will work to apply what we are learning to the problems of defense, medicine, global health and the economy.” 



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