There is gross technical misunderstanding within national security community (at large) on what aspects of the biological threat spectrum are within the realm of the possible and the aggregate knowledge to support better understanding is limited.
There are many areas in the context of a biological threat that would benefit from additional effort. These topics seek abstracts that identify areas of research investment that would directly benefit DoD.
- Metagenomic Analyses / High Throughput Sequencing
- Genetic Engineering
- Agent Fate
- Agent Vulnerability
- Signature Development / Identification
- Agent Ecology/ Environmental Niche(s)
- Geospatial/ Temporal mapping
- Biological Systems
The above focus areas are interrelated and can be synchronized to produce synergistic outcomes. Drivers
Methods need to be developed for understanding agent fate on surfaces and in the context of energetic materials, vulnerability assessments, and signature identification and development. Research is needed to understand the behavior of agents in their natural biological milieu, and to address unknowns that cannot be interrogated in a laboratory environment. This information will enhance warfighter situational awareness of hazards and provide empirical data for modeling and decision support. Additionally, a fundamental tenet of providing basic and applied research is to characterize biological threats and provide empirical data to inform various consumers of such knowledge.Metagenomics / High Throughput Sequencing
Having an organic HTS capability at USG labs that can be readily accessed gives all programs the ability to have a metagenomics component to their biology research projects.Genetic Engineering
Understanding genetic code manipulation will provide a knowledge base to inform many research areas and will potentially enable detection of genetic engineering residue.Agent Fate Studies
Knowledge on fate and persistence of many biological agents on DoD relevant materials in various environments is limited. Investing in laboratory studies can reveal latent details on the persistence of biological agents. Additional exploring how agents might be employed by adversaries will provide valuable information.
Agent Vulnerability Determinations
Comprehensive agent vulnerability assessments are needed to develop decontamination methods, medical countermeasures, and for agent defeat.
Signature Development / Identification
Investing in research for the determination of signatures will inform methods for detection, forensics, exploitation, and attribution. The environment in which the organism resides determines the signature.Agent Ecology/ Environmental niche(s)
Laboratory studies cannot fully address the complexity of environmental interactions. Understanding characteristics of biological agents in their biome gives us a more complete understanding of the agent’s behavior. Data from such studies may reveal latent phenomena that can inform hazard prediction and countermeasure development and other numerous lines of inquiry.
Laboratory studies cannot replicate the complexity of the environment. Investment in environmental studies could yield valuable insight into the life-cycle and etiology of a given pathogen. Correlations with weather data (temperature and rainfall) and disease outbreaks have been noted repeatedly in the scientific literature. Understanding these types of correlations at a more granular – molecular level could provide clues into disease infection, disease reservoirs, and mechanism of pathogen persistence in the environment. Many organisms become pathogenic through these very same mechanisms.Biological Systems Studies
Generic approaches to research can be employed to the extent that a system has sufficiently similar variants. Aggregation of existing knowledge can provide important insights into biological threat agents and may yield more widely applicable information. Advanced Studies
- Inform CBS investment by developing and maintaining an evolving analytical vision of required capabilities to protect from and respond to WMD (C/B) attack.
- Identify gaps in these capabilities and initiate targeted interdisciplinary programs to respond to them.
- Gauge potential implications of emerging science and technology to avoid technology surprise.
- Produce program outputs that lead development, knowledge, information, and progress.