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Nancy Connell, PhD
Senior Scholar, Professor

Bacterial genetics biological weapons biodefense predator bacteria microbial forensics

Nancy Connell, PhD
Nancy Connell, PhD

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Professional Profile

Dr. Connell is a Senior Scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and a Professor in the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She is a microbial geneticist by training.

Dr. Connell’s work at the Center is focused on advances in life sciences and technology and their application to a number of developments in the areas of biosecurity, biosafety, and biodefense. Her research projects analyze novel biotechnologies that might have an impact in several areas, such as the implementation of Biological Weapons Convention and the development of global catastrophic biological risks in ecosystems. She recently completed a study of the development of surge capacity for medical countermeasure manufacturing and other response mechanisms in the event of global pandemics or global catastrophic events. She is an Associate Editor of the peer-reviewed journal Health Security.

Dr. Connell is a member of the Board on Life Sciences, a member of the Committee on International Security and Arms Control, and a National Associate of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM). She has served on more than 15 NASEM committees, including Advances in Technology and the Prevention of Their Application to Next Generation Biowarfare Agents (2004), Trends in Science and Technology Relevant to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (2010), and Review of the Scientific Approaches Used During the FBI’s Investigation of the 2001 Anthrax Letters (2011). She is currently chairing the NASEM components of a series of international science and technology workshops, supported by the European Union and the United Nations, designed to explore regional advances and activities related to implementation of the  Biological Weapons Convention.

Dr. Connell is a member of the US National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response Biological Agent Containment Working Group. She has had a long-standing interest in the development of regulatory policies associated with biocontainment work and dual-use research of concern. In addition to biomedical research policy, Dr. Connell has considerable experience and interest in pedagogy, with a focus on ethics education and the responsible conduct of research. She chaired the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Standing Committee for Faculty Development for Education about Research with Dual Use Issues in the Context of Responsible Science and Research Integrity, which has conducted a series of workshops throughout the Middle East and North Africa over the past 5 years. These workshops seek to apply contemporary teaching and learning methodologies (“active learning”) to the challenge of increasing awareness among young scientists of the societal implications of their research. She has presented at workshops and meetings around the world on the interrelated issues of biocontainment, infectious disease research, research ethics, and dual-use research of concern.

Before joining the Center, Dr. Connell was Professor and Director of Research in the Division of Infectious Disease in the Department of Medicine at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School (NJMS) and the Rutgers Biomedical Health Sciences. Her major research focus was antibacterial drug discovery in respiratory pathogens such as Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Bacillus anthracis. Dr. Connell chaired the Institutional Biosafety Committee of Rutgers University and directed the NJMS biosafety level three containment laboratory beginning in 1997. Her recent work has focused on the use of predatory bacteria as novel therapeutics for treatment of Gram-negative bacterial infections, including multidrug-resistant strains and select agents. Dr. Connell was continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, industry, and other sources from 1992 to 2018. She received a PhD in microbial genetics from Harvard University.


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