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NTI and the Next Generation GHS Network Launch 5th Annual Next Generation for Biosecurity Competition

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NTI | bio is partnering with the Next Generation Global Health Security (GHS) Network to launch the fifth annual Next Generation for Biosecurity Competition to foster biosecurity professional development within the Next Generation GHS Network. We are seeking innovative and creative papers for online publication by NTI | bio and the NextGen GHS Network focused on responsible conduct of life science research. The winning team also will receive travel and lodging support to attend and present during a side-event at the 2021 Biological Weapons Convention Meeting of States Parties in Geneva[1].

As emerging biological risks continue to grow with the rapid pace of biotechnology advances, safe, secure, and responsible conduct of life science research is increasingly important. For this year’s competition, submissions should address the following questions and subordinate considerations:

What life science research should not be conducted, if any? Should red lines in life science research be drawn? If so, by whom?

Submissions should:

  • Identify predominant norms around responsible conduct of life science research citing outside sources to support key arguments
    • For example, consider referencing the 2004 National Academy of Sciences report highlighting the seven experiments of concern and the 2010 World Health Organization report on responsible life sciences research for global health security.
  • Provide historical examples of life science research that was seen as out-of-step with the identified predominant norms
  • Explore variations among countries and regions regarding norms and laws surrounding life science research
  • Invoke the Global Health Security Index and GHSA Joint External Evaluation findings as well as other publicly available data sources to identify potential gaps in biosafety, biosecurity, and/ or dual-use research regulation and oversight using quantitative and qualitative analyses. For the purposes of this competition, biosecurity and biosafety are defined by the target and indicators outlined within the Joint External Evaluation Tool of the World Health Organization[2] and the GHSA Action Package on biosecurity and biosafety (APP3). In general, the term “biosecurity” refers to measures that are taken to protect and control access to—and prevent theft and diversion of—dangerous biological materials and toxins, as well as oversight for dual-use research. The term “biosafety” refers to measures that are taken to protect people from exposure to dangerous biological materials and toxins. For this competition, “dual-use research” can be understood as benevolent life science research, which could be misapplied for malevolent purposes[3].

ELIGIBILITY

  • Applicants must be current members of the Next Generation GHS Network. To become a member, click here. Members can find teammates through the NextGen GHS Network Hub, which is available to all members after registration.
  • Teams must have three participants and include members from two or more countries and/or regions. Multisectoral teams are strongly encouraged.
  • Applicants must be currently enrolled in an academic institution or have less than five years professional experience.

SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS

  • A complete paper outline can be found here , which includes formatting and word count requirements.
  • Participants must consult with at least one expert in the field of biosecurity and/or biosafety, life sciences, or another related field. Consultation with this expert must be listed in the references section of the final report.
  • All submissions must be in English and submitted as a single pdf with the curriculum vitae of each team member (3 total) as the last three pages of the document.

DEADLINE

Submission deadline is August 3, 2021 at 11:59PM ET. Submissions should be sent in pdf form to NTI via [email protected] Winners will be announced in October 2021.

COMPETITION GOALS

The Next Generation for Biosecurity Competition seeks to cultivate regional and global partnerships among Next Generation GHS professionals to:

  • Connect NextGen leaders interested in biosecurity and biosafety in accordance with GHSA biosafety and biosecurity targets;
  • Strengthen country and regional capabilities to achieve GHSA and WHO JEE biosecurity and biosafety targets;
  • Enhance awareness among rising and established global health security community stakeholders about the benefits and potential risks of biotechnology advances;
  • Promote regional and cross-regional collaboration in the biosecurity and biosafety fields;
  • Cultivate a global cadre of multi-sectoral professionals within the Next Generation GHS Network dedicated to reducing catastrophic biological risks and strengthening biosafety and biosecurity; and
  • Provide additional avenues for knowledge transfer to next generation biosafety and biosecurity professionals through mentorships and potential engagement with global health security experts in the field.

Watch our virtual panel featuring an overview of the 2021 Next Generation for Biosecurity Competition, the NextGen GHS Network, and a discussion moderated by a former winner of the competition with experts on this year’s prompt and strategies for success here.

ABOUT THE SPONSORS

NTI is a nonprofit global security organization focused on reducing nuclear and biological threats imperiling humanity. NTI has addressed biosecurity issues since our founding in 2001. NTI | bio is developing 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 (GHSA).

The Next Generation Global Health Security (GHS) Network engages and facilitates contributions by emerging scholars, scientists, and professionals from government and non-governmental institutions to the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) and other global health security projects. Through its mission, the Next Generation Network promotes the values of inclusion, collaboration, education, innovation, and participation to approach and overcome the biggest challenges facing the health security fields today.


[1] If the 2021 Biological Weapons Convention Meeting of States Parties is postponed due to the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, NTI will identify an alternative presentation opportunity for the winning team.

[2] “A whole-of-government national biosafety and biosecurity system is in place, ensuring that especially dangerous pathogens are identified, held, secured and monitored in a minimal number of facilities according to best practices; biological risk management training and educational outreach are conducted to promote a shared culture of responsibility, reduce dual use risks, mitigate biological proliferation and deliberate use threats, and ensure safe transfer of biological agents; and country-specific biosafety and biosecurity legislation, laboratory licensing, and pathogen control measures are in place as appropriate.” (Joint External Evaluation Tool and Process Overview. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2016. License: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO.)

[3] “Knowledge and technologies generated by legitimate life sciences research that may be appropriated for illegitimate intentions and applications.” (Responsible Life Sciences Research for Global Health Security: A Guidance Document. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2010. License: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO.)

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