Summer Workshop

UPDATE- The 2020 workshop has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We look forward to hosting it and hope to see you in 2021!

Threats to global health security continue to evolve due to the changing nature of conflict, advances in science and technology, globalization, and the growing threat posed by emerging infectious diseases and pandemics. Pandemics, Bioterrorism and Global Health Security: From Anthrax to Zikais a three and a half-day workshop, non-credit summer workshop designed to introduce participants to the challenges facing the world at the intersection of national security, public health, and the life sciences. The workshop faculty are internationally recognized experts from the government, private sector, and academia who have been extensively involved with research and policy-making on public health, biodefense, and national security issues. The workshop is organized by the Biodefense Graduate Program at the Schar School of Policy and Government and will be held at the Schar School’s campus in Arlington, Virginia on July 13-16, 2020.

Private and public organizations face a number of challenges in adapting to the changing global biosecurity landscape. The spectrum of biological threats is diverse, including naturally occurring disease outbreaks such as COVID-19, SARS, Zika, and Ebola, lapses in biosafety, dual-use research of concern, and the threat of bioterrorism. A severe disease outbreak, whether natural or man-made, can affect not just public health, but also public safety and national security. Pandemics and bioterrorist attacks will confront government agencies and the private sector with the need to make high-impact decisions with limited information during a rapidly evolving situation. Further complicating this domain is the dual-use nature of biology: the knowledge, skills, and technology developed for legitimate scientific and commercial purposes can be misused by those with hostile intent. Research with dangerous pathogens and the development of advanced biotechnologies such as synthetic biology and genome editing poses a dilemma for policy-makers and researchers who seek to maximize the benefits of such research while minimizing the risks. Thus, public health, law enforcement and national security agencies, the pharmaceutical and biotech industries, and the academic life sciences community need to develop new types of expertise, adopt new types of risk assessment and risk management strategies, and learn to collaborate with each other.

Implementing these new priorities will require substantial organizational learning and change. But large organizations have deeply embedded professional norms and organizational culture that make them resistant to change, even during times of crisis. Each organization responds with its own routines, and its own distinctive view of “the threat,” which dilutes new initiatives, encourages stovepiping, and impedes effective collaboration. These organizational tendencies grow even more pronounced during times of declining budgets. Thus, while the need for collaboration is great, the potential for differing organizational styles to produce conflict is high.

The 1976 swine flu scare, 2001 anthrax letter attacks, SARS and avian influenza outbreaks, 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic, 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, and 2015-2017 Zika outbreak provide rich case studies of how government agencies and international organizations have struggled to address novel biological threats, make high-impact decisions with limited information, and work effectively with new partners. The lessons from these cases are broadly applicable to both public and private organizations seeking to address current and emerging biosecurity risks.


  • Syllabus and reading materials
  • Social hour after first day of course
  • Light breakfast, coffee, and lunch provided on all days
  • Certificate of Attendance

Courses Objectives

  • Identify the range of biological threats and assess the risks they pose to public health and national security
  • Describe impediments to organizational change and identify strategies for overcoming these obstacles.
  • Examine lessons learned from the COVID-19, SARS and avian flu outbreaks, the 2009 influenza pandemic, and the 2014-2016 West Africa Ebola outbreak. Explore the dual-use dilemma and how to balance the benefits of advanced biotechnologies against the safety and security risks they can pose. Investigate the growing importance of biotechnology to the national economy, domestic and international risks to biotechnology innovation, and legal, policy, and regulatory measures for safeguarding the bioeconomy.
  • Understand the technical, political, regulatory, and financial obstacles to developing new medical countermeasures for bioterrorist and pandemic threats.

Who Should Attend

Professionals and academics, both domestic and international, in public health, medicine and nursing, the life sciences, the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, international affairs, law enforcement, emergency management, biosafety and biosecurity, and national security who have responsibilities for preventing, preparing for, or responding to pandemics, bioterrorism, and other threats to global health security.

Past participants have come from a range of government agencies , including the Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, Food and Drug Administration, Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Department of Defense, Department of the Army, US Marine Corps, Defense Threat Reduction Agency, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories; private and non-profit organizations such as CRDF Global, Battelle Memorial Institute, Emergent Biosolutions, Booz Allen Hamilton, BAE Systems, Engility, Noblis, Quest Diagnostics, Synthetic Genomics, Sanofi, Biotechnology Innovation Organization, and Merrick & Company; universities and think tanks such as Virginia Tech, Kent State University, University of South Florida, Institute for Defense Analysis, MITRE, UC Berkeley, National Defense University, University of Sussex, SAIS, Georgetown University, and ANSER; and foreign countries , including the Center for Biosecurity and Biopreparedness in Denmark, the Biosecurity Office of the Netherlands, the Rwanda Ministry of Agriculture, the Philippine National Police Force, the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health in Georgia, and Defence Research and Development Canada.


Prior to May 1, the course fee is $1,200. After May 1, the course fee is $1,400. Discounts are available for George Mason University faculty, students, and alum and for groups of three or more from the same organization. If you qualify for one of these discounts, please email to receive a promo code. Please register for the event here. You can also print out the attached flyer for more information.

*Cancellation Policy: Refunds will be available if cancelled prior to the start to the start of the workshop (July 13, 2020).

The summer workshop will be held on July 13-16, 2020 on the Arlington campus of the Schar School of Policy and Government. The Schar School is located in Founder’s Hall at 3351 Fairfax Drive in Arlington, VA. The school is conveniently located two blocks from the Virginia Square-GMU Metro station on the Orange Line. Garage parking is also available.

List of Instructors

Sonia Ben Ouagrham-Gormley is an Associate Professor in the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University. She holds affiliations with GMU’s Biodefense Program, Center for Global Studies, and the Department of History and Art History’s Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies (MAIS) program. She received her PhD in Development Economics from the Ecoles des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in Paris; a graduate degree in Strategy and Defense Policy from the Ecoles des Hautes Etudes Internationales in Paris; a master’s degree in Applied Foreign Languages (triple major in economics, law, and foreign languages —Russian, and English) from the University of Paris X-Nanterre, and a dual undergraduate degree in Applied Foreign Languages and English Literature from the University of Paris X-Nanterre. She is fluent in French, English, Russian, and spoken Arabic, and possesses beginner competence in Kazakh. Prior to joining the GMU faculty in 2008, Professor Ben Ouagrham-Gormley was a Senior Research Associate with the Monterey Institute of International Studies’ James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS). While at CNS, she spent two years at the CNS Almaty office in Kazakhstan, where she served as Director of Research. She also was the founding Editor-in-Chief of the International Export Control Observer, a monthly publication focusing on proliferation developments and export controls around the globe. From 2004 to 2008, she was an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins’ School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C. Professor Ben Ouagrham-Gormley has conducted research and written on such topics as nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons proliferation, organization and management of weapons programs, WMD trafficking in states of the former Soviet Union, biosecurity and bioterrorism, bio-dissuasion, export controls, defense industry conversion, transfer mechanisms of WMD expertise, and redirection of WMD experts. She has received several grants from the Departments of Defense, State, and Energy, as well as from the Nuclear Threat Initiative and the Carnegie Corporation of New York to conduct research on WMD proliferation and contribute to remediation programs such as the DOD-funded Cooperative Threat Reduction Program.

Beth Cameron (invited), PhD, is NTI’s vice president for global biological policy and programs. Cameron previously served as the senior director for global health security and biodefense on the White House National Security Council (NSC) staff, where she was instrumental in developing and launching the Global Health Security Agenda and addressed homeland and national security threats surrounding biosecurity and biosafety, biodefense, emerging infectious disease threats, biological select agents and toxins, dual‐use research, and bioterrorism. From 2010‐2013, Cameron served as office director for Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) and senior advisor for the Assistant Secretary of Defense for nuclear, chemical and biological defense programs. In this role, she oversaw implementation of the geographic expansion of the Nunn‐Lugar CTR program. For her work, she was awarded the Office of the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Civilian Service. From 2003‐2010 Cameron oversaw expansion of Department of State Global Threat Reduction programs and supported the expansion and extension of the Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction, a multilateral framework to improve global CBRN security. Cameron served as an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) fellow in the health policy office of Senator Edward M. Kennedy where she worked on the Patients’ Bill of Rights, medical privacy, and legislation to improve the quality of cancer care. From 2001‐2003, she served as a manager of policy research for the American Cancer Society. Cameron holds a Ph.D. in Biology from the Human Genetics and Molecular Biology Program at the Johns Hopkins University and a BA in Biology from the University of Virginia. Cameron is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

ndu8898_web-240x300David R. Franz, DVM, PhD, 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). His current standing committee appointments include the Department of Health and Human Services National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB), the National Academy of Sciences Committee on International Security and Arms Control, the National Research Council Board on Life Sciences, and the Senior Technical Advisory Committee of the National Biodefense Countermeasures Analysis Center. 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. 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 national security policy. Dr. Franz holds a DVM from Kansas State University and a PhD in physiology from Baylor College of Medicine.

Kendall Hoyt is an Assistant Professor at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth and a Lecturer at the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College. She studies biodefense policy, global health policy, and biomedical R&D strategy and teaches courses on technology and biosecurity. Hoyt is a Visiting Scholar at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard Kennedy School. She is the author of Long Shot: Vaccines for National Defense, Harvard University Press, 2012. Hoyt has worked as a consultant for the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and the Nuclear Threat Initiative. Kendall Hoyt received her Ph.D. in the History and Social Study of Science and Technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2002 and was an International Security Program Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School from 2002-2004.  Prior to obtaining her degree, she worked in the National Security and International Affairs division of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Washington DC office of McKinsey and Company, and the Center for the Management of Innovation and Technology at the National University of Singapore.

Gregory D. Koblentz, PhD, MPP, is an Associate Professor in the Schar School of Policy and Government and Director of the Biodefense Graduate Program at George Mason University. During 2012-2013, he was a Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. Dr. Koblentz is also a member of the Scientist Working Group on Chemical and Biological Weapons at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation in Washington. He previously worked at Georgetown University, the Executive Session for Domestic Preparedness at Harvard University, and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He is the author of Strategic Stability in the Second Nuclear Age (Council on Foreign Relations, 2014), Living Weapons: Biological Warfare and International Security (Cornell University Press, 2009) and co-author of Tracking Nuclear Proliferation (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1998). He serves on the editorial boards of Nonproliferation Review, World Medical and Health Policy, and Global Health Governance. His teaching and research interests focus on international security, weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, and homeland security. He received his PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, his Master in Public Policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government, and his BA from Brown University. For more information, see

Sanford L. Weiner is a Research Associate in the Center for International Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a Visiting Fellow at Imperial College, University of London. For several decades he has done international comparative policy studies of public health agencies, and research on national security policies and environmental policies. He has published on policymaking at the Centers for Disease Control, the phase-out of CFCs, toxic substance control, and innovation in the Air Force. He is currently studying responses to pandemic flu in Europe and the United States, and the politics of alternative energy projects. He directs a Professional Education summer course at MIT on “Technology, Innovation and Organizations.” He has also taught in professional education courses for the Royal Society Technology Fellows (London), the National University of Singapore, UC San Diego, and in Stockholm. Before MIT he was on the research staffs of the School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley, the Health Policy Center at Brandeis, and the Harvard School of Public Health.

Edward You is a Supervisory Special Agent in the FBI’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate, Biological Countermeasures Unit. Mr. You is responsible for creating programs and activities to coordinate and improve FBI and interagency efforts to identify, assess, and respond to biological threats or incidents. These efforts include expanding FBI outreach to the Life Sciences community to address biosecurity. Before being promoted to the Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate, Mr. You was a member of the FBI Los Angeles Field Office Joint Terrorism Task Force and served on the FBI Hazardous Evidence Response Team. Mr. You has also been directly involved in policy-making efforts with a focus on biosecurity. He is an active Working Group member of the National Security Council Interagency Policy Committee on Countering Biological Threats and an Ex Officio member of the NIH National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity. He also serves on two committees for the National Academies of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine’s Forum on Microbial Threats and the Committee on Science, Technology, and Law’s Forum on Synthetic Biology. Prior to joining the FBI, Mr. You worked for six years in graduate research focusing on retrovirology and human gene therapy at the University of Southern California, Keck School of Medicine. He subsequently worked for three years at the biotechnology firm AMGEN Inc. in cancer research.

Saskia Popescu – is a Senior Infection Prevention Epidemiologist at HonorHealth and healthcare biopreparedness researcher. She is an infectious disease epidemiologist with a background in outbreak response, special pathogens preparedness, global health security, and antimicrobial resistance. She has published several articles, chapters, and op-eds on healthcare response to outbreaks and the infection prevention practices for novel diseases, like COVID-19. Dr. Popescu holds a PhD in biodefense, an MPH in epidemiology, a MA in international securities, and is certified in infection control. She is a fellow of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security Emerging Leaders in Biosecurity Initiative (ELBI) and a recipient of the Department of Homeland Security Career Development Grant for my research in food system vulnerability. Dr. Popescu has led several hospital response efforts to Ebola, measles, and COVID-19, and continues to help guide healthcare facilities in their efforts to prepare for and respond to biological events.

Andrew Kilianski – Dr. Andy Kilianski is a faculty member at George Mason University in the Schar School of Government and a Biological Scientist at the Department of Defense. At GMU, Dr. Kilianski teaches classes on biosurveillance and viral threat agents while also acting as a faculty mentor for graduate students. With the Department of Defense, his work focuses on combating current and emerging threats from weapons of mass destruction and emerging biotechnology. Prior to entering public service, Dr. Kilianski was a National Academy of Sciences Fellow with the U.S. Army at Edgewood Chemical Biological Center. His tenure at ECBC involved leading research and program development for integrated biosurveillance and the identification and characterization of novel agents that threaten today’s warfighter. His research has been published in peer-reviewed journals such as PLoS Pathogens, Journal of Virology, and Emerging Infectious Diseases while also publishing multiple commentary and op-ed pieces focused on emerging threat science policy. He received his Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology from Loyola University Chicago where he uncovered virus-host interactions necessary for coronavirus pathogenesis. During the workshop, Dr. Kilianski will be lecturing on biosurveillance and its role as an integral component of any biodefense strategy and how U.S. policy has mandated that such efforts be accelerated. He notes that “. This construct, and how the US and international entities engage in biosurveillance will be covered, as well as how recent Ebola and Zika virus outbreaks have tested the system. Emerging technologies and their role in biosurveillance will also be reviewed. Finally, paths toward integrated biosurveillance for the US and international communities will presented for group discussion discussion.

Have questions about Summer Workshop on Pandemics, Bioterrorism, and Global Health Security: From Anthrax to Zika? Contact Schar School of Policy and Government