Winners of NTI’s 2020 Next Generation for Biosecurity Competition Announced

NTI | bio, in partnership with the Next Generation Global Health Security Network, is pleased to announce the winners of the fourth annual Next Generation for Biosecurity Competition: Jonas Sandbrink, a medical student at the University of Oxford; Joshua Monrad, a masters candidate in health policy, planning, and financing at the University of London (LSHTM, LSE); and Sriharshita Musunuri, a chemistry and computer science undergraduate student at Stanford University.

In their joint paper, “Widening the Framework for Regulation of Dual-Use Research in the Wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic,” the authors assess publicly available data to identify categories of research that pose unique dual use risks amid a pandemic. Dual use research is defined as research conducted for legitimate purposes that generates knowledge, information, technologies, and/or products that could be used for both benevolent and harmful purposes. In the paper, the authors explain how especially during a pandemic when the global scientific community is conducting essential research to advance vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics, it is important that research funders, government agencies, and others to reduce the possibility for risky research to be deliberately misapplied by bad actors.

The authors offer three recommendations to address these risks without undermining pandemic preparedness and response, including: expanding the definition of dual-use research of concern, strengthening regulatory frameworks for dual-use research oversight, and developing robust mechanisms beyond policymaking to reinforce dual-use considerations in biomedical research.

The winning team was selected from papers submitted by students and young professionals from 10 countries across four continents. Adapting to the challenge of COVID-19, Next Gen GHS members were asked to propose technical and/or political actions that global health security community stakeholders should take either nationally or internationally to reduce biosecurity-related risks associated with COVID-19 and future outbreaks/pandemics. An international expert panel of 14 judges from seven countries across five continents evaluated the papers in a three-round collaborative virtual judging process.

The winning team of the 2020 Next Generation for Biosecurity Competition will receive an honorarium for their paper, and they will present their work at the 6th Global Health Security Agenda Ministerial Meeting side-event, “Monitoring and Evaluating Health Security: Using the Global Health Security Index to Take National-level Action.” This event will be hosted by Nuclear Threat Initiative and Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security on October 20th, 2020 from 8:00am – 12:00pm EST.

The Next Generation for Biosecurity Competition helps cultivate a global cadre of multi-sectoral, young professionals dedicated to reducing global catastrophic biological risks. Follow #NextGenBiosecurity for updates during the upcoming 6th Global Health Security Agenda Ministerial Meeting. Read more about the annual competition and last year’s winners here.

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