• BIOSECURITYCanada’s Biosecurity Scandal: The Risks of Foreign Interference in Life Sciences

    By Brendan Walker-Munro

    In July 2019, world-renowned biological researchers Xiangguo Qiu and Keding Cheng were quietly walked out of the Canadian government’s National Microbiology Lab (NML). The original allegation against them was that Qiu had authorized a shipment to China of some of the deadliest viruses on the planet, including Ebola and Nipah. Then the story seemed to go away—until now.

  • BIORISKSNew International Biosecurity Organization Launched to Safeguard Bioscience

    Amid rapid advances in bioscience and biotechnology that could  pose significant global security risks without effective guardrails, the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) last month launched the International Biosecurity and Biosafety Initiative for Science (IBBIS), a first-of-its-kind organization to strengthen international biosecurity governance. IBBIS, an independent organization to be headquartered in Geneva, provides tools that will allow technological innovation to flourish, safely and responsibly.

  • BIORISKSDeveloping Safety Tools for Synthetic Biology to Defend Against Potential Misuse of AI

    Artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to help develop biotechnologies that can improve human health or that may increase harm. Organizations performing nucleic acid synthesis must be aware of AI-related risks and need guidance in identifying and mitigating those risks.

  • BIORISKSAttributing Biological Weapons Use

    Why is attribution of BW use important? During a biological incident, including BW use, what evidence might provide valuable information to facilitate attribution? What is the state of the science for determining the origin of a biological incident, including BW use? What capabilities does DoD possess or could it develop to facilitate attribution of BW use?

  • AI & WMDDoes AI Enable and Enhance Biorisks?

    The diversity of the biorisk landscape highlights the need to clearly identify which scenarios and actors are of concern. It is important to consider AI-enhanced risk within the current biorisk landscape, in which both experts and non-experts can cause biological harm without the need for AI tools, thus highlighting the need for layered safeguards throughout the biorisk chain.

  • GAIN-OF-FUNCTION RESEARCHU.S. House Approves Federal Funding Ban on GoF Research

    The House of Representatives approved HR 5894, which includes a measure banning federal funding for studies that include gain-of-function research. Though the bill in question still requires Senate approval to have a chance to take effect, this move will likely be worrying to many in the scientific community.

  • BIODEFENSEThe Need for Speed in Biodefense: How JPEO-CBRND is Shaping its Biological Defense and Medical Strategies

    By Kelly Burkhalter and Daniel Critchfield

    Biological incidents possess an alarming ability to wreak havoc on a massive scale, capable of rapidly escalating beyond the scale seen during COVID-19. The need lies in developing solutions that surpass the speed of these threats. The future of biodefense depends on the ability to rapidly respond to an event by quickly developing and distributing medical countermeasures (MCMs), such as vaccines and therapeutics. This includes optimizing manufacturing techniques and establishing robust partnerships to ensure these MCMs can be quickly and effectively deployed in the event of a threat.

  • BIOTHREATSNatural or Not? Identifying Genetically Engineered Organisms

    By Aliyah Kovner

    Ever since gene editing became feasible, researchers and health officials have sought tools that can quickly and reliably distinguish genetically modified organisms from those that are naturally occurring. Following the emergence of SARS-CoV-2, the world at large became aware of this need. Now, such tools are being built. The development of new tools to detect modified bacteria, viruses, and cells has bolstered national security against biological threats.

  • COVID ORIGINSWhat If China Really Did Develop COVID as a Bioweapon? Here Are the Issues Involved

    By Michelle Bentley

    A recent report by the Sunday Times claims the newspaper has seen evidence that China was developing dangerous coronaviruses in collaboration with the Chinese military for the alleged purposes of biowarfare. This research program was the likely source of the pandemic, the report asserts.So, what could the rest of the world do about these new allegations – if anything? There is no easy answer, because, given the nature of biological research, we may never be able to reach a conclusive answer about the bioweapon question.

  • EMERGING BIOTHREATSFighting Biological Threats

    Modeling the emergence and spread of biological threats isn’t as routine as forecasting the weather, but scientists in two of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) national laboratories were awarded funding to try to make it so. The scientists will work together to advance computational tools and solutions for known and unknown diseases.

  • ARGUMENT: RUSSIA’S DISINFORMATIONHow Russia Turned America’s Helping Hand to Ukraine into a Vast Lie

    Russia’s sustained disinformation campaign about a fictional U.S. bioweapons program in Ukraine is an example of how, “In a world that connects billions of people at a flash, the truth may have only a fighting chance against organized lying,” the Washington Post writes. “Disinformation is not just “fake news” or propaganda but an insidious contamination of the world’s conversations. And it is exploding.”

  • AGRICULTURE SECURITYIt’s Time to Talk about Food and Agriculture Security

    By Krista Versteeg

    When large scale threats affect food and agriculture supplies, they become matters of national security. Many different threats to our food and agriculture sector exist, and any disruption to the supply chain can cause shortages at your local grocery store and limit the availability of food.

  • BIOSECURITYNIST Releases Bioeconomy Lexicon

    Biosecurity, bioenergy, bioinspired, biorisk: If you have ever started to feel like the new trend in security jargon is adding “bio” to an already existing word, then NIST’s Bioeconomy Lexicon  is for you.

  • CEHM-BIO THREATSPentagon Overhauls Chem-Bio Defense

    DOD last week said it was overhauling its approach to countering chemical and biological weapons. Rather than continuing to focus on developing countermeasures for a specific list of threat agents, the Pentagon will develop measures that can adapt to a range of evolving biological and chemical threats.

  • BIOTHREATSYeast Material Developed for Training First Responders on Biothreats

    First responders who train for emergencies involving threats from biological agents such as bacterial or viral pathogens, need to do so in a safe and careful manner. To help meet their needs, researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have developed a reference material based on yeast cells.