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Review of Research Proposals for Cooperation with Former Soviet Biological Weapons Personnel and Institutes: Letter Report from December 2, 2005 Review

Committee on the Review of Research Proposals for Cooperation with Former Soviet Biological Weapons Personnel and Institutes



Development, Security, and Cooperation Policy and Global Affairs



NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
Washington, D.C.
www.nap.edu



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Review of Research Proposals for Cooperation with Former Soviet Biological Weapons Personnel and Institutes: Letter Report from December 2, 2005 Review Review of Research Proposals for Cooperation with Former Soviet Biological Weapons Personnel and Institutes: Letter Report from December 2, 2005 Review Committee on the Review of Research Proposals for Cooperation with Former Soviet Biological Weapons Personnel and Institutes Development, Security, and Cooperation Policy and Global Affairs NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS Washington, D.C. www.nap.edu

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Review of Research Proposals for Cooperation with Former Soviet Biological Weapons Personnel and Institutes: Letter Report from December 2, 2005 Review THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine Policy and Global Affairs Office for Central Europe and Eurasia 500 Fifth Street, NW Washington, DC 20001 Phone: 202 334 2644 Fax: 202 334 2614 January 17, 2006 Gavin Braunstein, Ph.D. Project Manager, Biological Weapons Proliferation Prevention Defense Threat Reduction Agency U.S. Department of Defense John Kingman Drive, MSC 6201 Fort Belvoir, VA 22060-6201 Dear Dr. Braunstein: On behalf of the National Research Council’s Committee on the Review of Research Proposals for Cooperation with Former Soviet Biological Weapons Personnel and Institutes, I am pleased to transmit the committee’s ratings of proposals considered at our meeting of December 2, 2005. This review is in accordance with Contract No. DTRA01-02-D-003, Task Order #3, between the National Academies and the U.S. Department of Defense. At the meeting, the committee reviewed the following research proposals (listed in alphabetical order): AJ-1, Biological Weapons Proliferation Program in Azerbaijan KZ-16, Research on a New Highly Immunogenic Strain from Francisella tularensis, subspecies mediaasiatica, a Candidate for Human Vaccine (revision of proposal previously considered by the committee at its meeting of June 27, 2005) Each proposal was rated on the following five evaluation criteria: Scientific importance of the topic; Quality and capacity of the principal investigator, research team, and facilities; Provision for strong U.S. collaborators; Engagement of former Soviet biological weapon expertise and promotion of transparency; and Sustainability of the research following project completion. Attachment 1 contains the committee’s composite ratings for each proposal, based on examination of the proposal by all committee members, previous site visits by committee members to the institutes or laboratories in question, and thorough discussion at the meeting. A detailed description of the proposal review process is provided in Attachment 2.

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Review of Research Proposals for Cooperation with Former Soviet Biological Weapons Personnel and Institutes: Letter Report from December 2, 2005 Review In developing these ratings, committee members drew on their extensive expertise in biological weapons research and its peaceful applications, along with years of experience with biological weapons institutes in the Former Soviet Union. They also used their familiarity with a wide range of U.S. bioscientists to identify potential collaborators. A list of committee members is contained in Attachment 3. The committee understands that the funding decision for each proposal is DTRA’s responsibility, based on the proposal’s fit with DTRA’s research priorities and other factors. Some proposals for research that is scientifically important but outside the area of DTRA’s interest may more appropriately be referred to other agencies. Others rated highly for scientific importance, but lacking in one or more of the other evaluation criteria, may be appropriate for further development and resubmission. Research proposals that are viewed by the committee as of very high technical risk given the constraints of the state of the science have not received high ratings. We hope these assessments will be helpful to DTRA in making funding decisions in this critical area of research collaboration. Sincerely, David R. Franz, Chair Committee on the Review of Research Proposals for Cooperation with Former Soviet Biological Weapons Personnel and Institutes

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Review of Research Proposals for Cooperation with Former Soviet Biological Weapons Personnel and Institutes: Letter Report from December 2, 2005 Review Attachment 1 Composite Ratings of Proposals in Alphabetical Order AJ-1, Biological Weapons Proliferation Program in Azerbaijan Scientific importance of the topic   Highly Important   Important   Minimal Importance   Not Important X Insufficient Information Quality and capacity of the PI, research team, and facilities   High Quality and Highly Capable   Medium Quality and Capable   Low Quality and Not Capable X Insufficient Information Provision for strong U.S. collaborators   Collaborators Identified and Interested   Collaborators Identified but not informed or uninterested or unqualified   No Collaborators Identified X Insufficient Information Engagement of former Soviet BW expertise and promotion of transparency   Excellent Transparency   Good Transparency   Little Transparency X Insufficient Information Sustainability of research following project completion   Sustainable   Unsustainable X Insufficient Information

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Review of Research Proposals for Cooperation with Former Soviet Biological Weapons Personnel and Institutes: Letter Report from December 2, 2005 Review KZ-16, Research on a New Highly Immunogenic Strain from Francisella tularensis, subspecies mediaasiatica, a Candidate for Human Vaccine Scientific importance of the topic   Highly Important X Important   Minimal Importance   Not Important   Insufficient Information Quality and capacity of the PI, research team, and facilities   High Quality and Highly Capable X Medium Quality and Capable   Low Quality and Not Capable   Insufficient Information Provision for strong U.S. collaborators X Collaborators Identified and Interested   Collaborators Identified but not informed or uninterested or unqualified   No Collaborators Identified   Insufficient Information Engagement of former Soviet BW expertise and promotion of transparency   Excellent Transparency X Good Transparency   Little Transparency   Insufficient Information Sustainability of research following project completion X Sustainable   Unsustainable   Insufficient Information

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Review of Research Proposals for Cooperation with Former Soviet Biological Weapons Personnel and Institutes: Letter Report from December 2, 2005 Review Attachment 2 Proposal Review Process The Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), under the Department of Defense (DoD) Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) Program, established the Collaborative Research (CR) project to facilitate cooperation on biological research between the United States and the former Soviet Union. The purpose of this project is to prevent the proliferation of former Soviet Union biological weapons scientific expertise and technology by expanding scientific cooperation and exchange in peaceful applications of the biological sciences between American research scientists and Russian research scientists who had participated in the biological weapons program of the former Soviet Union. Since April 1999, the National Research Council (NRC) has assisted DTRA by providing a system of peer reviews for all former Soviet Union-proposed research projects being submitted to the CTR/CR project for funding. These reviews are conducted by the Committee on the Review of Research Proposals for Cooperation with Former Soviet Biological Weapons Personnel and Institutes. The committee’s primary task is to evaluate proposals prepared by Russian researchers for scientific validity, based on established criteria. The committee also conducts site visits to former Soviet Union biological research institutes, helps to identify qualified potential U.S. collaborators, and reviews project technical reports. The committee meets in person approximately twice each year to evaluate proposals, participate in site visits, and conduct other business. Committee meetings provide a forum for the members to clarify their understanding of individual proposals and agree on proposal ratings. Pre-meeting Activities Prior to each committee meeting, all members receive the proposals. They are expected to read each proposal and be prepared to discuss its merits at the meeting. Any committee member who might be perceived as having a conflict of interest on a specific proposal will be asked to recuse himself or herself from the review and discussion of that proposal. Each proposal is assigned two lead members to evaluate the proposal according to the criteria below and lead the discussion on the proposal. The lead members’ areas of expertise are matched as closely as possible with the proposal’s subject matter, as determined by the chair and the responsible staff officer. In addition to review of the written proposals, two or more committee members have typically conducted a site visit to each research institute or laboratory being considered for funding. The purpose of the site visit is to determine whether the quality and capacity of the research team, equipment, and facilities are adequate to support any subsequently proposed research. The committee members attempt to visit each facility from which they receive proposals at regular intervals of three to four years, as requested by the sponsor. Because many of the institutes and laboratories are located in the same or nearby geographic areas, it is possible to visit several sites during one trip.

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Review of Research Proposals for Cooperation with Former Soviet Biological Weapons Personnel and Institutes: Letter Report from December 2, 2005 Review Evaluation Criteria Committee members use the following criteria to evaluate each proposal: Scientific importance of the topic; Quality and capacity of the principal investigator, research team, and facilities; Provision for strong U.S. collaborators; Engagement of former Soviet biological weapon expertise and promotion of transparency; and Sustainability of the research following project completion. Committee Meetings In the meeting, committee members share their individual assessments and discuss the results of previous site visits. Conflicting opinions are discussed until all members agree. The committee then rates the proposals in each of the categories listed above. Transmittal to Sponsor and Public Release A letter report containing the committee’s composite rating of each proposal is prepared after each meeting. Once approved by the NRC, the report is transmitted to DTRA and posted on the National Academy Press website http://www.nap.edu. The full proposals are available through the NRC Public Access File. Declaration of Technical Data Conformity The Contractor, the National Academies, hereby declares that, to the best of its knowledge and belief, the technical data delivered herewith under Contract No. DTRA01-02-D-003 are complete, accurate, and comply with all requirements of the contract. Date: January 17, 2006 Authorized Official: Glenn Schweitzer, Director, Office for Central Europe and Eurasia

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Review of Research Proposals for Cooperation with Former Soviet Biological Weapons Personnel and Institutes: Letter Report from December 2, 2005 Review Attachment 3 Committee on the Review of Research Proposals for Cooperation with Former Soviet Biological Weapons Personnel and Institutes David Franz (chair), Midwest Research Institute David Ashford, U.S. Department of Agriculture Carol Blair, Colorado State University Gail Cassell, Eli Lilly and Company Christopher Howson, March of Dimes Peter Jahrling, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Paul Keim, Northern Arizona University James LeDuc, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Thomas Monath, Acambis and Harvard University Rebecca Morton, Oklahoma State University Matthew Meselson, Harvard University Frederick Murphy, University of California, Davis Connie Schmaljohn, United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases Joseph Silva, University of California, Davis Richard Witter, Michigan State University Russ Zajtchuk, Chicago Hospitals International Staff Glenn Schweitzer, Director Kelly Robbins, Senior Program Officer Rita S. Guenther, Senior Program Associate