New from the Biodefense Faculty

On this #FacultyFriday, we’ve got recent publications and appearances from two George Mason Biodefense faculty members.

Dr. Gregory Koblentz appeared on CBC Radio’s The Current to disucuss the recent Canada-India uranium deal. Listen to the whole segment here.

Charles Blair reflects on the Oklahoma City bombing as the 20th anniversary of the event nears.

Often erroneously explained away as psychopathic, Timothy McVeigh actually comported with psychologist and terrorism expert Clark R. McCauley’s finding that, “the best documented generalization is negative; terrorists do not show any striking psychopathology.” Though abhorrent, McVeigh’s actions are certainly intelligible. Examined extensively by psychiatrist John Smith in the months after the attack, McVeigh was judged as sane—“not delusional.” When asked why McVeigh “would commit such a terrible crime,” Smith concluded that “it was a conscious choice on his part, not because he was deranged … or misinterpreting reality … but because he was serious.”

His entire piece in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists can be found here.

New from the Biodefense Faculty

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, in their Agree to Disagree roundtable, is hosting a Winter-Safe Deterrence Debate. The premise of the debate follows:

In a recent opinion column for the Bulletin, “Deterrence, without nuclear winter,” Seth Baum argued that the biggest danger posed by world nuclear arsenals is a nuclear winter that could be sparked by even a limited exchange of nuclear weapons. Baum’s piece went on to suggest that “the world’s biggest nuclear powers [might] meet their deterrence needs without keeping the large nuclear arsenals they maintain today. They could practice a winter-safe deterrence, which would rely on weapons that pose no significant risk of nuclear winter.”

Baum’s column and the study from which it draws, “Winter-safe Deterrence: The Risk of Nuclear Winter and Its Challenge to Deterrence,” published in the journal Contemporary Security Policy, have been vigorously disputed in social media. In this roundtable, security experts Gregory Koblentz, Martin Furmanski, Brett Edwards, Gigi Kwik Gronvall, and Sonia Ben Ouagrham-Gormley and Baum debate his column and winter-safe deterrence ideas in more depth.

GMU Biodefense Faculty members Gregory Koblentz and Sonia Ben Ouagrham-Gormley have each offered two replies in the debate which are available here and here for Koblentz and here and here for Ouagrham-Gormley.

All replies in the debate are available here.

In the News: GMU National Center for Biodefense and Infectious Diseases

GMU Assistant Professor Dr. Kylene Kehn-Hall and others at George Mason University’s Center for Biodefense and Infectious Diseases were in the news yesterday, discussing their cutting-edge research on NanoTrap particles. The NanoTrap particles are capable of capturing and inactivating the virus in question, even when working with very low titers.  Use of the NanoParticles with Rift Valley Fever virus (RVFV), which is considered a potential bioterrorist agent, resulted in a 100-fold increase in sensitivity.

Excerpt of the study’s conclusion (published in PLOS): “This study demonstrates NanoTrap particles are capable of capturing, enriching, and protecting RVFV virions. Furthermore, the use of NanoTrap particles can be extended to a variety of viruses, including VEEV and HIV.”

Read the full article here.

(image credit: CDC/USG)