October 8, 2018

Former Senator Tom Daschle to Recount 2001 Anthrax Attacks During Meeting of Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense



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





Is the nation better prepared 17 years later?  Leaders from academia, law enforcement, government, and the media share experiences and viewpoints on biodefense readiness

WASHINGTON, D.C.  (October 8, 2018) – Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle was among those who received letters in October 2001 laced with deadly anthrax spores. At a special meeting of the Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense on Tuesday, October 9, Sen. Daschle – himself a member of the Panel – will share his perspectives on what happened at that time and subsequent action taken by the federal government. Since 2001, other biological events, such as the H1N1 influenza pandemic in 2009 and the outbreak and global spread of Ebola in 2014 – have tested U.S. national security. Just recently, letters received at the White House and Pentagon were tested for ricin, a potentially deadly biological agent. Called Fits and Starts:  Reactionary Biodefense,  this special meeting at the Hudson Institute will seek to answer the following questions: Where are we now as a nation? And what else do we need to do to ensure national biodefense?

“For me, this is very personal. For the nation, it is absolutely critical,” said Sen. Daschle. “My mounting frustration over the inaction in Washington on this issue is one of the reasons I agreed to serve on this bipartisan Panel. People died and became seriously ill back in 2001, but the biological threat is obviously still with us. Today’s intelligence reports confirm that there are nation-states and terrorist organizations who are actively seeking to weaponize biological agents and attack the United States and its interests overseas. The biological threat is real. Despite this fact, we have done far too little to coordinate our response and take meaningful action.”

In addition to Sen. Daschle, the meeting will feature a prestigious panel of experts, including:

  • Dr. Scott R. Lillibridge, Director, Center for Global Health and Innovation, AgriLife;
  • Dr.  Randall S. Murch, Associate Director, Research Program Development, National Capital Region, Virgina Tech;
  • Dr. Andrew C. Cannons, State Laboratory Director, Bureau of Public Health Laboratories, Florida Health Department;
  • Dr.  Connie Savor Price, Chief Medical Officer, Denver Health and Hospital;
  • Dr. Jay Rappaport, Director and Chief Academic Officer, Tulane University National Primate Research Center;
  • Rear Admiral Stephen C. Redd, MD, Director, Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and
  • Dr. Tara O’Toole, Executive Vice President, In-Q-Tel.

The lunch Keynote will be delivered by Dr. Sheri Fink, author and correspondent with The New York Times. The meeting is set to begin at 10 a.m. The complete agenda can be found here.  Your coverage is welcome. Media should RSVP to either attend the event or watch a live stream by contacting

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. In September 2018, the White House released a National Biodefense Strategy, a top recommendation from the Blueprint. 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 former Homeland Security Advisor Ken Wainstein. Hudson Institute is the Panel’s fiscal sponsor.