February 15, 2018

Blue Ribbon Study Panel Receives $2.5 Million Grant to Advance Leadership and Reduce Catastrophic Risk



Contact:  Steve Aaron, SRA Communications, (717) 554-8614,



Open Philanthropy grant comes as North Korea and other global regimes
build biological weapons capabilities

WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 15, 2018) – The Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense announced today a $2.5 million grant from the Open Philanthropy Project. The grant allows the Panel to continue its leadership role in assessing our nation’s biodefense, issuing recommendations and advocating for their implementation, and identifying viable avenues for needed change to policy. The grant comes amidst heightened global tensions as North Korea and other regimes seek to develop biological weapons. It also arrives on the 100th anniversary of a catastrophic influenza pandemic that took the lives of millions around the world, a stark reminder of the dangers of biological events.

“Estimates show that as many as 100 million people died in 1918 from pandemic influenza,” said Senator Joe Lieberman, co-chair of the Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense. “That was before we were traveling as often as we do today, and well before commerce became globalized. Since then, the world has gotten smaller, but the threat has not. Far more needs to be done to prepare for another catastrophic biological event – whether manmade or from nature. With this in mind, the support we receive today from Open Philanthropy will allow us to further advance the recommendations the Panel identified in our National Blueprint for Biodefense and subsequent reports. We thank Open Philanthropy for their leadership and support on this critical issue.”

The Open Philanthropy Project identifies outstanding giving opportunities, makes grants, follows the results, and publishes its findings. Its mission is to give as effectively as it can and share the findings openly so that anyone can build on them.

“On behalf of the staff and Panel members, I would like to thank Open Philanthropy for supporting our efforts to ensure that the government closes the gaps that remain in the biodefense enterprise. Our nation must prevent the sort of global calamity produced by the 1918 influenza pandemic. We also need to keep terrorists and nation states from using biological weapons to attack America and its interests overseas,” said Panel co-chair, Governor Tom Ridge.

Governor Ridge noted that the Panel’s work is having great impact already. The White House should soon be releasing the National Biodefense Strategy, a major recommendation of the Panel. The Panel also recommended that the government pair this Strategy with a top-to-bottom accounting of all U.S. biodefense expenditures and a comprehensive biodefense budget. “Through the Farm Bill, reauthorization of the Pandemic All-Hazards Preparedness Act, Intelligence Authorization, the National Defense Authorization Act, forensics reform, and strong counterterrorism and counterproliferation legislation, Congress and the Administration have some great opportunities ahead to better defend the nation against biological threats,” added Gov. Ridge.

The Panel made 33 recommendations to the government on how to improve the national biodefense posture in its 2015 report, A National Blueprint for Biodefense: Leadership and Major Reform Needed to Optimize Efforts. Subsequently, the Panel held public meetings on biodefense budgeting; attribution of biological crime, terrorism, and warfare; and state, local, tribal, and territorial ability to respond to large-scale biological events. In 2016, the Panel released its assessment entitled, Biodefense Indicators: One Year Later, Events Outpacing Federal Efforts to Defend the Nation, and in 2017, the Panel released Defense of Animal Agriculture,detailing additional challenges and solutions to better protect this critical sector from biological threats. It expects to release its next report later this winter.

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About the Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense

The Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense was established in 2014 to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the state of U.S. biodefense efforts, and to issue recommendations to foster change. The Panel’s 2015 report, A National Blueprint for Biodefense: Leadership and Major Reform Needed to Optimize Efforts, identified capability gaps and recommended changes to U.S. policy and law to strengthen national biodefense while optimizing resource investments. The Panel continues to assess biodefense challenges and to urge reform. Former Senator Joe Lieberman and former Governor Tom Ridge co-chair the Panel, and are joined by former Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, former Representative Jim Greenwood, and the Honorable Ken Wainstein. Hudson Institute is the Panel’s fiscal sponsor.