October 2, 2001: infectious-disease specialist Dr. Larry Bush found a high white blood cell count and rod-shaped bacilli in Robert Stevens, 63, photo editor at the supermarket tabloid The Sun. He soon was convinced Stevens had contracted anthrax. He then notified the Palm Beach County Health Department. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_the_2001_anthrax_attacks_in_Florida [accessed January 6, 2006]. Feb 28, 2003: World Health Organization officer Carlo Urbani, MD, examines an American businessman with an unknown form of pneumonia in a French hospital in Hanoi, Vietnam. March 10, 2003: Urbani reports an unusual outbreak of the illness, which he calls severe acute respiratory syndrome or SARS, to the main office of the WHO. He notes that the disease has infected an usually high number of healthcare workers (22) at the hospital. March 29, 2003: Carlo Urbani, who identified the first cases of SARS, dies as a result of the disease. Researchers later suggest naming the agent that causes the disease after the infectious disease expert. See my.webmd.com/content/article/63/72068.htm [accessed January 6, 2006].
Wysocki, B. 2005. U.S. Struggles for Drugs to Counter Biological Threats. Wall Street Journal (July 11).
The failure of the government to get the countermeasures it needs to protect its citizens is a major problem. BioShield gives HHS more flexibility to purchase countermeasures but there is a critical piece missing—funding of initial product development, the so-called “Valley of Death” for new drugs. BioShield does not provide sufficient financial incentives for pharmaceutical companies to invest years of research into a product. For a detailed description of what BioShield does and does not do, as well as the difficulties in getting countermeasures for biodefense, see Borio, L.L. and Gronvall, G.K. 2005. Anthrax countermeasures: current status and future needs. Biosecurity and Bioterrorism: Biodefense Strategy, Practice, and Science 3(2):102-112.
Institute of Medicine. 2003. The Resistance Phenomenon in Microbes and Infectious Disease Vectors. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
The areas of science reflected in the Nobel Prize include chemistry, medicine and physiology, and physics. Areas of science for which the National Medal of Scinece is awarded include biology, chemistry, engineering, and math and physics.