A new book published by the Center for Biosecurity of the University of Pittsburg Medical Center (UPMC), Preparing for Bioterrorism, tells the story of important biosecurity projects funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and how they left the nation better prepared to deal with bioterrorism.
Author Gigi Kwik Gronvall, Senior Associate at the Center for Biosecurity of UPMC, chronicles Sloan’s leadership in the field and the innovations that followed to show how the foundation helped lay the groundwork on which US civilian biosecurity has been built.
Prior to the 9/11 and the anthrax letter attacks, the US government was primarily focused on biodefense for military forces, leaving critical gaps in civilian preparedness capabilities.
In 2000, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation started funding projects in civilian bio-preparedness to address these gaps and build a network of multidisciplinary experts. Over the next 10 years, Sloan would award more than $44 million in grants in the field of biosecurity.
“There is a lot of history in there, and people will learn why things are the way they are and also why preparedness is something that needs to be continually worked on over time,” said Grovnall. “I hope other people will read this as a guidebook on how to effect real, positive change in government. Because of Sloan’s unique management style, and their commitment to try a range of ideas to see what would work, they provide a good tutorial for how to harness the passion, commitment, and energy of a diverse group of experts. And it worked. We have a way to go, but the US is much better prepared for a biological attack than it was in 2001.”
The UPMC Center for Biosecurity is an independent, nonprofit organization whose mission is to strengthen national security by reducing the risks posed by biological attacks, epidemics, and other destabilizing events, and to improve the nation’s resilience in the face of such events.