Biodefense Policy Seminars

The Biodefense Policy Seminars are monthly talks focused on biodefense and biosecurity broadly conceived. Free and open to the public they feature leading figures within the academic, security, industry, and policy fields. Launched in the Spring of this year, the Seminars have been a tremendous success. Please see our February, March, and April Spring 2015 speakers below, as well as information on our past seminars.

February 2015 Biodefense Policy Seminar
Title: Global Biorisk Management: The View from Iraq
Speaker: Mahdi al-Jewari, Head, Biology Department, Iraq National Monitoring Authority, Iraq Ministry of Science and Technology
Date: Thursday, February 19, 2015
Time: 6:00 – 7:30pm; complimentary food will be served at 5:30pm
Location: Merten Hall 1204, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA

Mr. al-Jewari currently serves as a Visiting Research Fellow in the Biodefense Program at George Mason University where he is conducting research on biorisk management policy and practice. He is on leave from the Iraqi National Monitoring Authority in the Ministry of Science and Technology where he is head of the Biological Department. The Iraqi National Monitoring Authority is responsible for overseeing Iraq’s implementation of its obligations under the Biological Weapons Convention and UN Security Council Resolution 1540. Mr. al-Jewari has served as the head of the Iraqi delegation to several BWC meetings. Mr. al-Jewari is the Ministry of Science and Technology’s representative to the National Biorisk Management Committee, an interagency effort to develop a comprehensive biosafety and biosecurity system for Iraq. Mr. Al-Jewari also serves as an expert for the UN Secretary-General’s mechanism for the investigation of alleged uses of chemical and biological weapons.

March 2015 Biodefense Policy Seminar
Title: Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction – An Integrated Layered Approach
Speaker: Dr. David Christian Hassell, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Chemical and Biological Defense, Department of Defense
Date: Thursday, March 26, 2015
Time: 6:00 – 7:30pm; complimentary food will be served at 5:30pm
Location: The Hub Meeting Room 5, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA

HassellDr. David Christian “Chris” Hassell was appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Chemical and Biological Defense in the Department of Defense in 2014. From 2008 until 2014, he served as an Assistant Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Director of the FBI Laboratory. During his tenure, he led major efforts to expand the Laboratory’s role in national security and intelligence, including the Terrorist Explosive Device Analytical Center (TEDAC) and other technical areas related to weapons of mass destruction. In addition, he strengthened and streamlined FBI programs in traditional forensics, particularly in such rapidly evolving areas as DNA, chemistry and the use of instrumentation to augment pattern-based forensic techniques (e.g., fingerprints, firearms, and documents). He also led many engagements with international counterparts, with focus on enhancing counterterrorism interactions with “Five-Eyes” partners, as well as new technical collaborations in Asia, Latin America and with such key multilateral groups as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and INTERPOL.

Dr. Hassell joined the Bureau from the Oklahoma State University Multispectral Laboratories, where he led Research, Development, Testing and Evaluation. He previously served as Assistant Vice President for Science and Technology at Applied Marine Technologies Incorporated. Prior to that position, Dr. Hassell led programs in analytical chemistry, instrumentation development, and nuclear weapons forensics at Los Alamos National Laboratory. During this time, he also served as a subject matter expert for chemical and biological weapons with the Iraq Survey Group in Baghdad. Earlier in his career, Dr. Hassell was a Senior Research Chemist at DuPont, developing online analytical instrumentation for chemical and bioprocess facilities for both research and manufacturing.

Dr. Hassell received his PhD in analytical chemistry from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a Fellow of the Society for Applied Spectroscopy and a member of the American Chemical Society and the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

April 2015 Biodefense Policy Seminar
Title: Unconventional Methods for Assessing Unconventional Threats
Speaker: Dr. Gary Ackerman, Director, Unconventional Weapons and Technology Division, National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START)
Speaker: Date: Thursday, April 16, 2014
Time: 6:00 – 7:30pm; complimentary food will be served at 5:30pm
Location: Merten Hall 1202, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA

AckermanDr. Gary Ackerman is the Director of the Unconventional Weapons and Technology Division at the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START). Prior to taking up his current position, he was Research Director and Special Projects Director at START and before that the Director of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Terrorism Research Program at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, California.  His research encompasses various areas relating to terrorism and counterterrorism, including terrorist threat assessment, radicalization, terrorist technologies and motivations for using chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) weapons, and the modeling and simulation of terrorist behavior. He is the co-editor of Jihadists and Weapons of Mass Destruction (CRC Press, 2009), author of several articles on CBRN terrorism and has testified on terrorist motivations for using nuclear weapons before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security. Dr. Ackerman received an M.A. in International Relations from Yale University and a Ph.D. in War Studies from King’s College London.


Archived video of Biodefense Policy Seminars are available on our YouTube Channel

FALL 2014

November 2014 Biodefense Policy Seminar

Title: Pathway to Civilian Medical Countermeasure (MCM) Requirement Setting and Utilization
Speaker: Richard I. Jaffe, M.S., Ph.D., MT(ASCP), Director, Medical Countermeasures, Strategy, & Requirements , Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response , U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
Date: Wednesday, November 5, 2014
Time: 7:30 – 9:00pm; food will be served at 7:00pm
Location: George Mason University, Fairfax Campus, Research Hall 163

November BPSDr. Richard Jaffe is an internationally recognized subject matter expert in the field of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense issues with almost 30 years of technical and operational experience in government, academia, military, and industry.
Dr. Jaffe was the scientific lead for the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s AMERITHRAX case in 2001-2003 while working at Commonwealth Biotechnologies, Inc. in Richmond VA. There he led a scientific team that developed the molecular assays that provided the FBI the crucial scientific evidence to proceed in their investigation. From 2006-2012, as the Senior Medical Advisor to the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear and Chemical and Biological Defense/Chemical and Biological Defense Programs at the Pentagon, he helped lead, guide, and integrate the Department of Defense’s (DoD) policies in areas such as medical countermeasures (MCM), diagnostics, public health, and biosurveillance.

Dr. Jaffe is currently the Director of the Division of Medical Countermeasures, Strategy, and Requirements in the Office for Policy and Planning, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response at HHS. The Division leads the efforts to develop policy initiatives, planning and analysis, activities for storage, dispensing, administration, etc., and requirements for MCM that help protect the U.S. civilian population during public health emergencies.

Dr. Jaffe received a Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology from Medical College of Virginia, a M.S. in Human Genetics from George Washington University, and a B.S. in Microbiology from the University of Maryland. He is a board certified Medical Technologist and served honorably in the United States Air Force before separating at the rank of Major.

October 2014 Biodefense Policy Seminar

Title: The Future of Weapons of Mass Destruction in 2030
Speakers: John P. Caves, Jr. and Dr. W. Seth Carus, Center for the Study of Weapons of Mass Destruction at National Defense University
Date: Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Time: 7:30 – 9:00pm; food will be served at 7:00pm
Location: George Mason University, Fairfax Campus, Merten Hall 1202

Nuclear weapons are likely to play a more significant role in an increasingly multipolar global system, and technological advances will enable new forms of chemical and biological weapons. The proliferation and use of these weapons could be harder to prevent. To discuss the impact of technological change and the evolving geopolitical environment on the future of weapons of mass destruction, this Biodefense Policy seminar will feature John P. Caves, Jr., and Dr. W. Seth Carus of the Center for the Study of Weapons of Mass Destruction at National Defense University.

October BPS CavesJohn P. Caves, Jr., is the Deputy Director of the Center for the Study of Weapons of Mass Destruction and a Distinguished Research Fellow at the National Defense University. He joined the Center in 2003, where nuclear and chemical weapons matters have been the principal focus of his work. Prior to joining the Center, Mr. Caves served as the Deputy Director for Counterproliferation Policy in the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD). From 1997 to 1999, he was the Country Director for Turkey, Spain, and Cyprus in the Office of European Policy, OSD. From 1986 to 1997, he served in a variety of positions within the Defense Security Assistance Agency and in the Office of the Defense Adviser, U.S. Mission to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

October BPS CarusDr. W. Seth Carus is a Distinguished Research Fellow in the Center for the Study of Weapons of Mass Destruction at NDU. His research focuses on issues related to biological warfare, including threat assessment, biodefense, and the role of the Department of Defense in responding to biological agent use. From 2001 to 2003, Dr. Carus was detailed to the Office of the Vice President, where he was the Senior Advisor to the Vice President for Biodefense. Before assuming that position, he was on the staff of the National Preparedness Review commissioned to recommend changes in homeland security organization and support the Office of Homeland Security while it was being established. Prior to joining NDU, Dr. Carus was a research analyst at the Center for Naval Analyses, a member of the Policy Planning Staff in OSD Policy, and a research fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

September 2014 Biodefense Policy Seminar

Title: Biosurveillance and the Atypical Epidemic: The 2014 West African Ebola Epidemic
Speaker: Dr. Michael Smith, Director of the Critical Reagents Program (CRP) within the Medical Countermeasure Systems Joint Project Management Office, Department of Defense
Date: Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Time: 7:30 – 9:00pm; food will be served at 7:00pm
Location: George Mason University, Fairfax Campus, Research Hall 163

September BPSDr. Michael Smith is the Director of the Critical Reagents Program (CRP) within the Medical Countermeasure Systems Joint Project Management Office (MCS JPMO) headquartered at Fort Detrick, Maryland. In this role, he manages the characterization, production, and distribution of reagents and consumables employed on deployed platforms and those under development by other programs.

Previously, he served in the United States Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment. He has also held several positions at the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), including senior science and technology manager and most recently, acting division chief, Diagnostic and Disease Surveillance Division of the Joint Science and Technology Office. In December 2011, Dr. Smith became the director of the CRP within the Chemical Biological Medical Systems (CBMS) JPMO where he continued to serve through the transition of CBMS into the MCS JPMO. Mr. Smith assumed his current role as Director of the CRP in June 2013.

Dr. Smith earned a bachelor’s degree in Microbiology from the Pennsylvania State University. He continued his education and attained both a master’s degree and a doctor of philosophy degree in Molecular Microbiology from Yale University. 


February 2014 Biodefense Policy Seminar

Title: Process and Politics of  WMD Destruction: Iraq and Syria
Speaker: Charles Duelfer
Date: Tuesday, February 11th, 2014
Time: 7:20 PM
Location: Research Hall Room 163, GMU Fairfax Campus


We  are delighted to announce our February speaker, renowned WMD expert Mr. Charles Duelfer. Charles Duelfer was the Special Advisor to the Director of Central Intelligence for Iraq WMD. He led the Iraq Survey Group (ISG) investigation in Iraq, which conducted the investigation of Iraq’s WMD programs. The ISG was a unique intelligence organization of over 1600 military and civilian staff that investigated Iraq WMD programs. It used all possible collection and analytic capabilities in a hostile environment. The Duelfer Report (2004) is the definitive work on the relationship of the Saddam Regime to WMD. Previously, Mr. Duelfer was the Deputy Executive Chairman of the UN Special Commission on Iraq (UNSCOM) from 1993 until its termination in 2000. For the last several months of its existence he was the acting chairman. Duelfer also served in the Political-Military Bureau of the State Department for several years in a variety of capacities including directing regional security programs in Africa (including Somalia, Sudan and Chad), Latin America, and the Middle East. He also participated in the policy development for nuclear weapons and arms control subjects. From 2006-2008, Duelfer was chairman and CEO of Transformational Space Corporation, a small entrepreneurial company developing a launch system for transportation to low earth orbit. Presently he is Chairman of Omnis, Inc, a consulting firm in McLean, Virginia. He is the author numerous articles on security and intelligence and the book, Hide and Seek: The Search for Truth in Iraq (Public Affairs Books 2009).

March 2014 Seminar Title:  “Biological weapons non-proliferation, biosecurity and counter-terrorism: an international perspective”
Speaker: Dr. Dana Perkins
Date: Monday, March 17th, 2014
Time: 7:20PM
danaOur March Biodefense Policy Seminar features Dana Perkins, Senior Science Advisor, DHHS — member of the 1540 Committee Group of Experts. Dr. Perkins earned a Master’s Degree in Biochemistry from the University of Bucharest, Romania. She also earned a PhD in Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics in 2002 from the University of Maryland, Baltimore, where she specialized in Microbiology/Neurovirology. In 2012-2013, Dana Perkins served in a US Government-seconded position as a member of the Group of Experts supporting a subsidiary body of the United Nations Security Council, the 1540 Committee. The 1540 Committee was established pursuant to resolution 1540 (2004) to monitor the implementation of this resolution worldwide. In her prior position with the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), she led the Biological Weapons Nonproliferation and Counterterrorism Branch in the Office of Policy and Planning, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR). At HHS/ASPR, some of her responsibilities and duties included providing subject matter expertise, inter-agency coordination, and senior level policy advice on the scientific (biodefense and biosecurity) and public health aspects of national and international emergency preparedness and response; directing and coordinating national and international progress on issues related to biodefense and biosecurity; developing and reviewing policies on biosecurity, biological weapons nonproliferation, and health security; and performing expert analysis and preparing implementation plans to support the US Government biodefense and biosecurity policy.

April 2014 Biodefense Policy Seminar

: NSABB, 1918 flu, H5N1 and the New Botulinum Strain: Causes, Effects and a Potential Way Forward
Speaker: Dr. David Franz
Date and Time: 7:20PM,  April 23, 2014
Location: Mason Hall, Meese Conference Room

david franz

Dr. Franz served in the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command for 23 of 27 years on active duty and retired as Colonel. He served as Commander of the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) and as Deputy Commander of the Medical Research and Materiel Command. Prior to joining the Command, he served as Group Veterinarian for the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne). Dr. Franz was the Chief Inspector on three United Nations Special Commission biological warfare inspection missions to Iraq and served as technical advisor on long-term monitoring. He also served as a member of the first two US-UK teams that visited Russia in support of the Trilateral Joint Statement on Biological Weapons and as a member of the Trilateral Experts’ Committee for biological weapons negotiations. Dr. Franz was Technical Editor for the Textbook of Military Medicine on Medical Aspects of Chemical and Biological Warfare released in 1997. Current standing committee appointments include the National Academy of Sciences Committee on International Security and Arms Control, the National Research Council Board on Life Sciences, the Department of Health and Human Services National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity and the Senior Technical Advisory Committee of the National Biodefense Countermeasures Analysis Center. He serves as a Senior Mentor to the Program for Emerging Leaders at the National Defense University. He also serves on the Board of Integrated Nano-Technologies, LLC. Dr. Franz holds an adjunct appointment as Professor for the Department of Diagnostic Medicine and Pathobiology at the College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University. The current focus of his activities relates to the role of international engagement in the life sciences as a component of global biosecurity policy. Dr. Franz holds a D.V.M. from Kansas State University and a Ph.D. in Physiology from Baylor College of Medicine.

FALL 2013

September 2013 Biodefense Policy Seminar

The ABCs of Including Special Populations in Biodefense and Public Health Preparedness”
Speaker: Dr. Daniel Dodgen
Date: Tuesday, September 17th, 2013 at 7:20 PM
: Meese Conference Room, Mason Hall, GMU Fairfax Campus

daniel_dodgenJoin us as Dr. Daniel Dodgen discusses the importance of including special populations in Biodefense & Public Health planning. Dr. Dodgen is the Director for At-Risk Individuals, Behavioral Health, and Community Resilience in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). His office is tasked with ensuring that HHS is developing policies and capabilities for emergency planning, response, and recovery activities that integrate at-risk individuals (including children), behavioral health, and community resilience. Dr. Dodgen also served as the Executive Director of the White House directed national advisory group on disaster mental health, and played a coordinating role in the federal response to Hurricanes Sandy, Gustav, Ike, and Dean; the H1N1 epidemic, the BP oil spill, the Sandy Hook school shooting, and other natural and manmade disasters.

October 2013 Biodefense Policy Seminar

Syria and Chemical Weapons: Building a World Free of Weapons of Mass Destruction
Speaker: Dr. Paul Walker
Date: Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 7:20PM
Location: Meese Conference Room, Mason Hall, GMU Fairfax Campus

Paul-Walker_imagePaul Walker will join us to discuss Syrian proliferation concerns. Dr. Walker is the International Director of the Environmental Security and Sustainability (ESS) Program for Green Cross International (GCI) and manages the Washington DC office for GCI and its US national affiliate, Global Green USA. The ESS Program is an international effort to facilitate and advocate the safe and environmentally sound demilitarization, nonproliferation, and remediation of nuclear, chemical, biological, and conventional weapons stockpiles.  Walker has worked, spoken, and published widely in the related areas of international security, threat reduction, non-proliferation, weapons demilitarization, and environmental security for over three decades and took part in the first on-site inspection by US officials of the Russian chemical weapons stockpile at Shchuch’ye in the Kurgan Oblast in 1994. Since that time he has worked closely with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), US and Russian officials, the US Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) Program, the G-8 Global Partnership, and other multilateral regimes to help foster cooperative, timely, and safe elimination of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and related systems. He has helped to permanently eliminate over 50,000 tons of chemical weapons and millions of munitions in six countries to date.

November 2013 Biodefense Policy Seminar

Project BACHUS: Forecasting Bioweapons Threats with Experiment and Demonstration
Speaker: Kathleen Vogel
Date: November 21, 2013
Location: Meese Conference Room, Mason Hall, GMU Fairfax Campus

20110912_Fall Scholars 2011Dr. Vogel will describe a 1990s bioweapons threat assessment that involved setting up a mock bioweapons production facility as an “experiment”. The talk will discuss the difference between a scientific experiment and scientific demonstration and why it is important to interrogate what things are labeled as “experiments” and the implications that has for bioweapons assessments. Kathleen Vogel is an associate professor at Cornell, with a joint appointment in the Department of Science and Technology Studies and the Judith Reppy Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies. Vogel holds a Ph.D. in biological chemistry from Princeton University. Prior to joining the Cornell faculty, Vogel was appointed as a William C. Foster Fellow in the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Proliferation Threat Reduction in the Bureau of Nonproliferation. Vogel has also spent time as a visiting scholar at the Cooperative Monitoring Center, Sandia National Laboratories and the Center for Nonprolif­eration Studies, Monterey Institute of International Studies. Her research focuses on studying the social and technical dimensions of bioweapons threats and the production of knowledge in intelligence assessments on WMD issues.



March 2013 Biodefense Policy Seminar

Speaker: Dr. Charles Bailey
When: Wednesday, March 20th, 2013, 7:20 – 8:30PM
Where: Johnson Center Meeting Room B, George Mason University, 4400 University Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030

Charles Bailey is the Executive Director of the National Center for Biodefense and Infectious Diseases. He manages a Biosafety Level -3 containment laboratory and conducts translational research aimed at developing diagnostics, antiviral drugs, therapeutics and vaccines against biological threat pathogens or newly emerging infectious diseases. Prior to joining George Mason, Dr. Bailey served in the US Army for 25 years where he conducted research on arthropod borne viral diseases in the US, Southeast Asia and Africa. Dr. Bailey also served as a senior analyst with the Defense Intelligence Agency and as an analyst for the Battelle Memorial Institute.

April 2013 Biodefense Policy Seminar

Alexander Garza, MD, MPH, FACEP“Health Threats in a Security World”
Speaker: Dr. Alexander Garza,
When: 7:20PM, Thursday April 18th, 2013
Where: Meese Conference Room, Mason Hall, George Mason University

Dr. Alexander Garza is the assistant secretary for health affairs and chief medical officer of the Department of Homeland Security. He manages the Department’s medical and health security matters, oversees the health aspects of contingency planning for all chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear hazards, and leads a coordinated effort to ensure that the Department is prepared to respond to biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction. Prior to joining the Department in August 2009, Dr. Garza spent 13 years as a practicing physician and medical educator.

Dan-Gerstein (1)

May 2013 Biodefense Policy Seminar

National Security and Arms Control in the Age of Biotechnology
: Dr. Daniel M Gerstein
When: 7:20PM, Thursday, May 23rd, 2013
Where: Meese Conference Room, Mason Hall, George Mason University

Dr. Daniel M. Gerstein has served as the Deputy Under Secretary for Science & Technology in the
Department of Homeland Security since August 2011. He is also an Adjunct Professor at American University in Washington, DC at the School of International Service (SIS) where he teaches graduate level courses on biological warfare and the evolution of military thought. Dr. Gerstein has extensive experience in the security and defense sectors in a variety of positions while serving as a Senior Executive Service (SES) government civilian, in uniform, and in industry. Before joining DHS, he served as the Principal Director for Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) within the Office of the Secretary of Defense (Policy). He has served on four different continents participating in homeland security and counterterrorism, peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance, and combat in addition to serving for over a decade in the Pentagon in various high level staff assignments.

9 thoughts on “Biodefense Policy Seminars

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s