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Examining the threats of our time...locally, regionally, and globally.

ISTAR Preparedness Projects

 

Current Efforts

Program on Antibiotic Development and Rational Use

ISTAR was successful in making the case that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania should devote resources to antibiotic development and rational use as part of the State Fiscal Year 2008-2009 Priorities for the Nonformula Funded Research Chapter 9, Act 2001-77.  ISTAR sees this as a critical issue for the health and well being of the global population as well as an issue of national and international security.  The RFP was recently released by the Commonwealth and asks for research to better understand and test approaches to reduce the prevalence of infections caused by antibiotic resistant bacteria and other emerging infections in healthcare settings and in the community, and to reduce associated morbidity and mortality of these infections.  The research program we suggested would include (1) developing new antibiotics, (2) studying the transmission of antibiotic-resistant organisms within community and healthcare settings, (3) studying the overuse of antibiotics within community and healthcare settings as a risk factor for emerging resistance, (4) evaluating novel approaches to reduce the transmission of antibiotic resistant organisms within community and/or healthcare settings and (5) applied research and clinical trials for products for which proof-of-concept has been demonstrated.  ISTAR formed a statewide group of academic researchers in the basic, clinical, and epidemiologic sciences as well as collaborators from big pharmaceutical and biotech companies that have central offices and research facilities in Pennsylvania. The group was awarded the contract for studying rational use.

In addition, ISTAR was recently awarded a Department of Defense contract worth up to $17.8 million to develop antibiotic countermeasures against Category A and B Biothreat bacterial agents. Please visit the official press release statement.

 

National Science Advisory Board for Bio-Security (NSABB)

Dr. Harvey Rubin, as a member of the NSABB, has been providing the federal government with recommendations regarding “dual use” research of concern in the life sciences, enhancing protections for life sciences research and ensuring that safeguards are in place for risk reduction, while simultaneously ensuring that any impact to the free flow of scientific inquiry is minimized.  There have been numerous crucial issues which the board reviewed, including whether the recently discovered genomic sequence of the influenza virus responsible for the 1918 pandemic should be published in academic journals.  Dr. Harvey Rubin serves on the international relations and the synthetic biology working groups of NSABB.

 

National Academy of Sciences Study of Prevention of Proliferation of Biological Weapons 

Dr. Rubin has been appointed to this National Academy of Sciences Study to identify areas for cooperation with states other than states of the former Soviet Union under the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program of the Department of Defense in the prevention of proliferation of biological weapons.  The Study will include:
(1) An assessment of the capabilities and capacity of governments of developing countries to control the containment and use of dual-use technologies of potential interest to terrorist organizations or individuals with hostile intentions.
(2) An assessment of the approaches to cooperative threat reduction used by the states of the former Soviet Union that are of special relevance in preventing the proliferation of biological weapons in other areas of the world.
(3) A brief review of programs of the United States Government and other governments, international organizations, foundations, and other private sector entities that may contribute to the prevention of the proliferation of biological weapons.
(4) Recommendations on steps for integrating activities of the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program relating to biological weapons proliferation prevention with activities of other departments and agencies of the United States, as appropriate, in states outside of the former Soviet Union.

 

International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence (ICSR)

The Centre is a unique partnership between ISTAR/University of Pennsylvania, King’s College (London, England), the Regional Center on Conflict Prevention (Amman, Jordan), and the Inter-Disciplinary Center (Herzliya, Israel).  ICSR is the first global center for advancing knowledge and leadership to counter the growth of radicalization and political violence.  The objective is to combine scholarly insight and political foresight in addressing the challenges from radicalization and political violence.  ICSR represents the first time Arab and Israeli academic institutions are openly collaborating to combat the aforementioned threats.  Dr. Harvey Rubin, Director of ISTAR, served as Chairman of the Summary Session of ICSR’s First International Conference on Radicalization and Political Violence in London (January 17-18, 2008).  Close to 100 senior policy makers, scholars, journalists and practitioners from 5 continents and more than 20 countries took part in the conference.  Dr. Rubin will serve as the general editor of the ICSR paper series Developments in Radicalisation and Political Violence that will be launched in November.  

 

University Consortium for Emergency Preparedness for the City of Philadelphia

In 2005, Mayor John F. Street appointed the City Managing Director, Mr. Pedro Ramos, and ISTAR Director, Dr. Harvey Rubin, as co-chairs of the City of Philadelphia Emergency Preparedness Review Committee (EPRC), with the goal of assessing the strengths and weaknesses of Philadelphia’s disaster plans and updating them as necessary to ensure an effective response to a wide range of natural or deliberate attacks.  The EPRC included representatives from a variety of government agencies, community partners, the private sector, and non-governmental agencies  The final product of the EPRC investigations was a comprehensive report to the Mayor that identified the strengths and weaknesses of Philadelphia’s existing disaster plans and provided recommendations, ranked according to their urgency, for correcting the vulnerabilities.  Following the initial report, 90-day and 180-day reports described progress in implementation of the recommendations.  Dr. Harvey Rubin now serves as the co-chair of the University Consortium for Emergency Preparedness that has been formed under Mayor Nutter’s term. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 


 
 
 
 
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