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Atlantic Storm

This training tabletop exercise is based on a fictional scenario. The inputs experts used for modeling the potential impact were fictional. It is a teaching and training resource for public health and government officials.


How would world leaders manage the catastrophe of a fast-moving global epidemic of deadly disease? Atlantic Storm was a ministerial table-top exercise convened on January 14, 2005 by the Center for Biosecurity of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, the Center for Transatlantic Relations of the Johns Hopkins University, and the Transatlantic Biosecurity Network. The exercise used a fictitious scenario designed to mimic a summit of transatlantic leaders forced to respond to a bioterrorist attack. These transatlantic leaders were played by current and former officials from each country or organization represented at the table. There was an audience of observers from governments on both sides of the Atlantic as well as from the private sector, but the venue was designed to focus all attention on the summit principals and their discussions around the table .

Take a ringside seat with Atlantic Storm Interactive: The interactive presentation brings the event to life as you watch the news, learn the facts, read the briefings, and listen to excerpts of the players' discussions--from the ringside perspective of an observer, or from the hot seat perspective of a world leader facing a global outbreak of a deadly infectious disease. Atlantic Storm Interactive walks you through the day, unveiling events, materials, and developments in the same sequence in which they were unveiled to the players. You can listen to audio that highlights the most important moments in the players' deliberations, watch videos that brought the scenario to life for the players, and use an interactive timeline to move back and forth through the day.

BBC Newsnight Video: BBC Newsnight aired a report on Atlantic Storm on January 17, 2005. Watch the video below (made available with permission of BBC).


Navigating the Storm: this article by Atlantic Storm authors includes a summary report on the exercise and recommendations for actions to improve national and internation response to large-scale attacks with biological weapons or fast-moving pandemics of a natural source.

Organizers and Sponsors

Atlantic Storm was authored and organized by the Center for Biosecurity of UPMC, the Center for Transatlantic Relations of Johns Hopkins University, and the Transatlantic Biosecurity Network

The exercise was sponsored by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the German Marshall Fund of the United States, and the Nuclear Threat Initiative

Atlantic Storm Executive Committee

  • Tara O'Toole, MD, MPH, Director/CEO, UPMC Center for Biosecurity
  • Thomas V. Inglesby, MD, Deputy Director/COO, UPMC Center for Biosecurity
  • Daniel Hamilton, PhD, Director, Center for Transatlantic Relations
  • Esther Brimmer, PhD, Deputy Director & Director of Research, Center for Transatlantic Relations
  • Colonel Randall Larsen (USAF, retired), Founder & CEO, Homeland Security Associates, LLC
  • Brad Smith, PhD, Atlantic Storm Project Director, UPMC Center for Biosecurity

Our special thanks to D.A. Henderson, MD, MPH for his invaluable contributions to the development of the Atlantic Storm exercise.

Use of Materials: If you who would like to reference or use Atlantic Storm materials to please note the following:

  • The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security retains copyright with all rights reserved for all materials created for the Atlantic Storm exercise and posted on this website.
  • Feel free to link to any pages on the Atlantic Storm website; links to our materials do not signal our endorsement of the site where the links originate.
  • Materials posted on the Atlantic Storm website may not be reprinted (including reproduction for distribution or posting on another website) or adapted without the permission.

Requests to reprint, reproduce, or adapt Atlantic Storm materials, may be submitted by email to Please be sure to include your name, your institutional or organizational affiliation, the materials you would like to use, and a brief description of how you intend to use them. Please use the phrase "Request to use Atlantic Storm materials" in your subject line.



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