Life Sciences and
Trends Relevant to the
Biological Weapons Convention
Committee on Trends in Science and Technology
Relevant to the Biological Weapons Convention:
An International Workshop
Board on Life Sciences
Division on Earth and Life Studies
NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
In cooperation with
Chinese Academy of Sciences
IAP—the Global Network of Science Academies
International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
International Union of Microbiological Societies
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20001
NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.
This project was supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation under Award 2009-12-14, Chinese Academy of Sciences, IAP—the Global Network of Science Academies, U.K. Global Partnership Programme under Award 2010072600092647, U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency through TASC under Award 7500080708, U.S. Department of State under Award SAQMMA10M2776, U.S. National Institutes of Health under Award N01-OD-4-2139 (Task Order 236), and U.S. National Academies. The views expressed herein are those of the authors, and the content of this publication does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. government.
International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-21071-3
International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-21071-2
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Copyright 2011 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Printed in the United States of America
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering and Medicine
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COMMITTEE ON TRENDS IN SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY RELEVANT TO THE BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS CONVENTION: AN INTERNATIONAL WORKSHOP
RODERICK J. FLOWER (Chair), Professor of Biochemical Pharmacology, William Harvey Research Institute, Queen Mary University of London, United Kingdom
HERNAN CHAIMOVICH, Superintendent General, Butantan Foundation; Professor of Biochemistry, Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil
NANCY D. CONNELL, Professor of Infectious Disease, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Newark, NJ, USA
ANDRZEJ GORSKI, Professor of Medicine and Immunology, The Medical University of Warsaw; Vice President, Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland
Li HUANG, Director-General, Institute of Microbiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
MAXWELL OTIM ONAPA, Deputy Executive Secretary, Uganda National Council for Science and Technology, Kampala, Uganda
MOHAMED IQBAL PARKER, Professor in Medical Biochemistry, University of Cape Town; Director, International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, Cape Town, South Africa
ANDREW PITT, Chair of Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Chemical Biology, School of Health and Life Sciences, Ashton University, Birmingham, United Kingdom
RALF TRAPP, Consultant, CBW Arms Control and Disarmament, France
LLOYD WHITMAN, Deputy Director, Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology, U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, USA
KATHERINE BOWMAN, Study Director and Senior Program Officer, Board on Life Sciences
KATHRYN HUGHES, Program Officer, Board on Chemical Sciences and Technology
JO L. HUSBANDS, Scholar/Senior Project Director, Board on Life Sciences
SAYYEDA AYESHA AHMED, Senior Program Assistant, Board on Life Sciences
BOARD ON LIFE SCIENCES
KEITH R. YAMAMOTO (Chair), University of California, San Francisco, California
BONNIE L. BASSLER, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey
VICKI L. CHANDLER, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Palo Alto, California
SEAN EDDY, HHMI Janelia Farm Research Campus, Ashburn, Virginia
MARK D. FITZSIMMONS, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Chicago, Illinois
DAVID R. FRANZ, Midwest Research Institute, Frederick, Maryland
LOUIS J. GROSS, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee
RICHARD A. JOHNSON, Arnold and Porter, Washington, DC
CATO T. LAURENCIN, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, Connecticut
BERNARD LO, University of California, San Francisco, California
ROBERT M. NEREM, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia
CAMILLE PARMESAN, University of Texas, Austin, Texas
MURIEL E. POSTON, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York
ALISON G. POWER, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
MARGARET RILEY, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts
BRUCE W. STILLMAN, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor, New York
CYNTHIA WOLBERGER, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland
MARY WOOLLEY, Research!America, Alexandria, Virginia
FRANCES E. SHARPLES, Director
JO L. HUSBANDS, Scholar/Senior Project Director
JAY B. LABOV, Senior Scientist/Program Director for Biology Education
KATHERINE BOWMAN, Senior Program Officer
MARILEE K. SHELTON-DAVENPORT, Senior Program Officer
INDIA HOOK-BARNARD, Program Officer
KEEGAN SAWYER, Associate Program Officer
ANNA FARRAR, Financial Associate
CARL-GUSTAV ANDERSON, Program Associate
SAYYEDA AYESHA AHMED, Senior Program Assistant
ORIN LUKE, Senior Program Assistant
In 2006 the Royal Society, in cooperation with the International Council for Science, the InterAcademy Panel on International Issues (now IAP—the Global Network of Science Academies), and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, organized a workshop that surveyed trends in science and technology (S&T). The objective was to provide an independent contribution from the international scientific community to the Sixth Review Conference of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC) that was held in December of that year.
At the time I was serving as chair of the Royal Society standing Committee on Scientific Aspects of International Security and so became chair of the S&T trends workshop. Among the lessons we learned from that workshop were that:
• Inviting researchers to describe the “state of the science” in their fields was a useful and productive strategy. Subsequent discussions drew out the potential implications of these advances and remaining challenges for the BWC.
• Input by technical experts from government and the policy community who engaged with the research scientists at the workshop was extremely valuable.
• The provision of adequate time for small-group discussion was important to enable participants to explore topics in greater depth and detail than was possible in plenary sessions.
• International scientific organizations can make a genuine contribution by assisting the BWC States Parties to gain a greater appreciation of the advances taking place in the life sciences and related fields, including the increasingly global nature of the research enterprise.
We applied the experience we garnered from this meeting when we embarked on organizing the second international workshop held in Beijing in November 2010. Again, this took the form of a partnership between several international scientific organizations and national academies.
The three main themes that emerged from this meeting resonate strongly with my own experience as an active researcher. Take the convergence of disciplines, for example; the major therapeutic advances in my own area (the pharmacology of inflammation) have come from the application of biotechnology, and in particular protein engineering, to the design of anti-inflammatory drugs. The “biologics,” as these agents are known, have provided relief to countless sufferers from arthritis and other debilitating diseases. In fact, the very title of my own department—Biochemical Pharmacology—was originally chosen to indicate the growing conjunction of two life sciences.
Scientific research has always had a strongly international nature. My own group collaborates with laboratories around the world to take advantage of complementary skills and training facilities that other laboratories can offer. While such endeavors were once dependent upon personal visits or postal exchanges, the advances in communications technologies now enable us to share data and discuss our work in virtual as much as in actual laboratory settings. The many similar international efforts described in the Beijing workshop therefore rang true to me as capturing the reality of a genuinely global scientific enterprise.
I am very pleased to have had the opportunity to serve as the chair of the international committee that organized the second workshop and produced the subsequent report presented here. Planning and mounting such a conference as this is a daunting undertaking, and there are many people I would like to thank.
My colleagues on the committee made numerous suggestions for topics and speakers, helping ensure the broad representation of fields and countries at the workshop. They then played essential roles as session chairs and in some cases as speakers themselves.
We also benefited greatly from the assistance of the staff of three national academies, in particular:
• Neil Davison from the Royal Society;
• Katherine Bowman, Kathryn Hughes, Jo Husbands, and Ben Rusek from the National Research Council of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS); and
• Our hosts, Tao Xu, Institute Director, and members of his staff Lei Zhang, Xiaoke Xia, and Wei Yang from the Institute of Biophysics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
In addition to the practical work of the meeting, they served as rapporteurs for the plenary and breakout sessions, and contributed ideas for the final report. They were joined by James Revill of the University of Sussex, who served as an unpaid consultant and provided valuable support both during the workshop and to the NAS and Royal Society staff in the preparation of a subsequent factual summary of the workshop presentations, which was released in time for the Preparatory Committee of the BWC Review Conference in April 2011.
Everyone on the staff made significant contributions, but I do want to offer special thanks to Katherine Bowman. I first met Katie when she was a Christine Mirzayan Fellow at the National Research Council in 2006 and worked with us in organizing the first trends workshop. In addition to her work on the preparations for Beijing, Katie, along with Jo Husbands and Kate Hughes, made invaluable contributions to the drafting of this report. Their initial work made the committee’s task much easier, and I want to express my deep appreciation for their efforts.
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This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the National Academies’ Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the process.
We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report:
Robert Butera, Georgia Institute of Technology, USA
R. James Cook, Washington State University, USA
Gerald Epstein, American Association for the Advancement of Science, USA
Lewis R. Goldfrank, New York University, USA
Robert J. Mathews, Defence Science and Technology Organisation, Australia
Piers Millet, United Nations, Switzerland
Kathryn Nixdorff, Darmstadt University of Technology, Germany
Kaiming Ye, University of Arkansas, USA
Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the
conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Edwin P. Przybylowicz, Eastman Kodak Company (retired). Appointed by the National Academies, he was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.
The Institute of Biophysics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences served as the host for the workshop in November 2010 and the Director-General, Dr. Tao Xu, welcomed participants to the event. In addition to the able leadership of Dr. Lei Zhang, Director of the International Liaison Office, Mr. Xiaoke Xia and Ms. Wei Yang helped to ensure the smooth and successful operation of the workshop.