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Biosecurity and Emerging Threats

Our research aims to advance science, policy and practice in addressing a range of emerging threats including the global rise of emerging infectious diseases with pandemic potential; major natural or technological disasters; and intentional use of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear materials as weapons. We work toward building sustainable public health and healthcare systems that can reduce the physical, mental, and societal impacts of these threats and hazards.

Research Highlights

COPEWELL: A Conceptual Framework and System Dynamics Model for Predicting Community Functioning and Resilience After Disasters

Policy-makers and practitioners have a need to assess community resilience in disasters. Prior efforts conflated resilience with community functioning, combined resistance and recovery (the components of resilience), and relied on a static model for what is inherently a dynamic process. We sought to develop linked conceptual and computational models of community functioning and resilience after a disaster. We developed a system dynamics computational model that predicts community functioning after a disaster. The computational model outputted the time course of community functioning before, during, and after a disaster, which was used to calculate resistance, recovery, and resilience for all US counties.

Global Catastrophic Biological Risks: Toward a Working Definition

The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security is working to analyze and deepen scientific dialogue regarding potential global catastrophic biological risks (GCBRs), in a continuation of its mission to reduce the consequences of epidemics and disasters. Because GCBRs constitute an emerging policy concern and area of practice, we have developed a framework to guide our work. We invited experts from a variety of disciplines to engage with our underlying concepts and assumptions to refine collective thinking on GCBRs and thus advance protections against them.

Perceived Facilitators and Barriers to Local Health Department Workers' Participation in Infectious Disease Emergency Responses

Local health departments play a key role in emergency preparedness and respond to a wide range of threats including infectious diseases such as seasonal influenza, tuberculosis, H1N1, Ebola virus disease, and Zika virus disease. To successfully respond to an infectious disease outbreak, local health departments depend upon the participation of their workforce; yet, studies indicate that sizable numbers of workers would not participate in such a response. This study aims to understand why local health department workers are willing, or not willing, to report to work during an infectious disease response.

Scarce Resource Allocation During Disasters: A Mixed Method Community Engagement Study

During a catastrophe, health-care providers may face difficult questions regarding who will receive limited life-saving resources. The ethical principles that should guide decision-making have been considered by expert panels but have not been well explored with the public or front-line clinicians. The objective of this study was to characterize the public’s values regarding how scarce mechanical ventilators should be allocated during an influenza pandemic, with the ultimate goal of informing a statewide scare resource allocation framework.

Associated Faculty