Thanks to two new, generous grants, the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) will significantly expand its biosecurity work under the leadership of Elizabeth Cameron, Ph.D., newly named vice president, global biological policy and programs with guidance from newly elected Board Member Margaret A. Hamburg, MD. The Open Philanthropy Project awarded NTI with $6 million over three years in operational and programmatic support. Generous support of $250,000 from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will accelerate NTI’s plans to develop a Global Health Security (GHS) Index in partnership with the Center for Health Security at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Economist Intelligence Unit.
The Open Philanthropy Project grant will allow NTI to develop new initiatives to curb global catastrophic biological risks, catalyze international biosecurity norms and innovation, enhance biosurveillance for emerging threats, and advocate for measurable biosecurity commitments as an integral component of the Global Health Security Agenda.
“We are deeply appreciative of this significant support—and vote of confidence—from the Open Philanthropy Project. In our interconnected world, biological threats are among the most dangerous and difficult. NTI is committed to generating new international approaches to strengthen biosecurity,” said NTI CEO and Co-Chair Ernest J. Moniz. “We are extremely grateful that Peggy Hamburg will be joining the NTI Board, bringing stellar qualifications in policy development in the biological arena.”
“Funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is a welcome imprimatur of our approach on the Global Heath Security Index. We are fortunate to have Beth’s expertise and leadership to guide our work on global biological policy and programs,” added NTI President Joan Rohlfing.
The GHS Index will assess countries’ capability to prevent and mitigate high-consequence biological events, taking into consideration political and socioeconomic risk factors, as well as a country’s broader healthcare system. NTI, with support from the Open Philanthropy Project and the Robertson Foundation, recently partnered with the Center for Health Security at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Economist Intelligence Unit to develop a comprehensive GHS Index framework based on publicly available data and informed by an international panel of experts.
As Foreign Secretary of the National Academy of Medicine, Dr. Margaret Hamburg serves as senior advisor on international matters and is the liaison with other Academies of Medicine around the world. She is President-elect of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She is an internationally recognized leader in public health and medicine, having served as Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for almost six years. Before joining FDA, Hamburg was founding vice president and senior scientist at NTI.
The Open Philanthropy Project identifies outstanding giving opportunities, awards grants, tracks the results, and publishes the findings. Its mission is to give effectively and share findings openly so that others may build on them. One of the Project’s focus areas is global catastrophic risks including biosecurity and pandemic preparedness.
The Nuclear Threat Initiative works to protect our lives, environment, and quality of life now and for future generations. We work to prevent catastrophic attacks with weapons of mass destruction and disruption (WMDD)—nuclear, biological, radiological, chemical, and cyber. Founded in 2001 by former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn and philanthropist Ted Turner who continue to serve as co-chairs, NTI is guided by a prestigious, international board of directors. Ernest J. Moniz serves as chief executive officer and co-chair; Des Browne is vice chairman; and Joan Rohlfing serves as president.
Since its founding, NTI has been committed to addressing biosecurity threats. Work has included creating regional disease surveillance networks as well as a “network of networks” that connects regional disease surveillance organizations in the Middle East, Southern Africa and Southeast Asia; creating an Emergency Outbreak Response Fund at the World Health Organization; and sponsoring the National Academy of Science’s 2004 report, Biotechnology Research in an Age of Terrorism, which led the U.S. government to change how it provides oversight for federal R&D funding for dual use research of concern and to create a federal advisory board for biosecurity.
More about NTI’s biosecurity program can be found at www.nti.org/about/biosecurity.