American innovation is in large part driven by academic research. The academic biomedical research community and the knowledge, products, workforce, and financial benefits it produces serve communities and states and, by extension, the nation. The enormous size of the investment of the federal government and that of many other entities that sponsor academic research is a reflection of this reality.
And yet these investments are not uniformly secure. They are vulnerable to disasters both natural and manmade. Through extensive search of the existing literature, the committee found that if the academic biomedical research community is not protected in advance of disasters, the impacts can be felt at all levels: impacts on the safety and well-being of humans and research animals; disruptions to the careers of individual researchers; departure of research faculty and students; loss of data, samples, reagents, specialized equipment, and other materials; damage to buildings and physical infrastructure; interruptions to the institutional research mission; impacts on research funding and research sponsor investments; and so on (see Chapter 2). This report describes the central role of the academic biomedical research community in terms of both science and economics, reviews the impacts of prior disasters on the academic biomedical research community, and explores opportunities for the academic biomedical research community to achieve resilience.
The committee believes that for the academic biomedical research community to prioritize and institutionalize resilience would be consistent with the National Preparedness Goal established by Presidential Policy Directive 8 (PPD-8) (Obama, 2011):
A secure and resilient nation with the capabilities required across the whole community to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from the threats and hazards that pose the greatest risk. (FEMA, 2015, p. 1)
The impacts of disasters can be substantially reduced or eliminated through prevention, protection, mitigation, response, and recovery planning—key elements of the National Preparedness Goal. These key elements necessary for the academic biomedical research community to meet such a state of preparedness should be identified, agreed upon, and implemented in order to protect the national research investment. Given the singular contributions that the academic biomedical research community endows upon society, it is critical that this community has the capacity to mitigate the impact of disasters and to protect research-related assets, financial investments, and human capital.
The nation’s academic biomedical research community provides essential services that underpin American society, especially with respect
to addressing emerging public health issues and chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosives (CBRNE) threats on an emergent and long-term basis (NRC, 2014a). Presidential Policy Directive 21 (PPD-21) advances a national policy to strengthen and maintain secure, functioning, and resilient critical infrastructure (Obama, 2013). There are 16 critical infrastructure sectors whose assets, systems, and networks, whether physical or virtual, are considered so vital to the United States that incapacitation or destruction of these sectors would have a debilitating effect on national security, economic security, public health, or safety or some combination thereof (Obama, 2013). One sector covers health care and public health (HPH) capability. The HPH Sector is large, diverse, and open, spanning both the public and private sectors. It includes publicly accessible health care facilities, research centers, suppliers, manufacturers, and other physical assets as well as public–private information technology systems. This sector helps protect all sectors of the economy from such hazards as terrorism, infectious disease outbreaks, and natural disasters. The academic biomedical research community is a component of the “research centers” referred to in section 3.2 of the sector profile of the HPH Sector-Specific Plan (DHS, 2016). The failure or loss of the academic biomedical research community could have immediate cascading consequences. As an example, the protection from, mitigation of, and response to a novel infectious disease outbreak may in part depend on the academic biomedical research community’s support of governmental investigation of the offending pathogen and the development and evaluation of experimental therapies, vaccines, and diagnostics (medical countermeasures). The loss of the academic biomedical research community could cripple the nation’s ability to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from the next serious communicable disease crisis.
In the following sections the importance of the academic biomedical research community is discussed. This discussion is followed by a brief overview of the impact of prior disasters on the academic biomedical research community. Finally, this chapter concludes with an overview of the rest of the report.
Less than 2 weeks after the destruction by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) asked the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (the National Academies) and the New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM) to convene stakeholders in New York City to discuss priority areas for response and recovery research (NYAM, 2012). Participants helped identify a number of
priorities, including infrastructure protection and rebuilding, community resilience, workforce health and response, and policy decision making.
Participants noted that insufficient guidance and resources were available to academic research institutions to prepare for and recover from disasters and to strengthen their resilience. As a result of these discussions, as well as those triggered by Tropical Storm Allison in 2001 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recognized a profound challenge and requested that the National Academies assemble an ad hoc committee to develop recommendations and guidance to improve and enhance the disaster resilience of the academic biomedical research community, with a special focus on researchers, academic research institutions, and research sponsors. The full charge to the committee is presented in Box 1-1. To respond to this charge, the National Academies formed an ad hoc committee composed of members with expertise in disaster preparedness, continuity of operations, academic administration, research facilities management, information technology, structural engineering, capital planning, earth and life sciences research, and veterinary sciences.
Institutions will likely be looking at this issue of disaster resilience holistically; however, this report focuses largely on the special considerations for the research enterprise while allowing for the fact that the research enterprise does not exist in isolation at an institution. Consistent with the committee’s charge, the language of this report focuses specifically on biomedical and biological academic research. Other types of research entities (e.g., industry and federal) and research areas (e.g., physics, engineering, and agricultural, among others) are not within the study’s scope; the committee recognizes, however, that its findings may be applicable to other types of research entities and research areas. Additionally, while academic research institutions can have medical schools or teaching hospitals or affiliations with health systems or other care providers, this report does not include guidance on disaster resilience for human subject research.
This report frequently uses a number of terms with meanings that vary depending upon the context and user. For the purpose of this report, the committee defines the academic biomedical research community as broadly encompassing the following: research sponsors, academic research institutions and their research enterprise, and researchers (see Box 1-2). Terms related to disaster resilience are defined in Box 1-3. Additional terms are defined in the glossary of key terms or when first discussed in the report.
In 1959, as the United States was reacting with fervor to reclaim scientific supremacy in the wake of the Russian launch of Sputnik, Richard Nelson of RAND wrote, “It is sometimes argued that . . . the benefits derived from scientific research are only in small part reflected in the useful inventions generated by science, for science helps to make better citizens”
(Nelson, 1959, p. 298). Economists, he said, might argue that the benefits derived from science are related to the increase in the value of the output flow that the resources of a society can produce—that is, a link between scientific research and the creation of something of economic value.
In the United States, scientific research is undertaken and funded by a variety of entities, and the contribution of academia has long been a cornerstone of this research effort. Academic research institutions carry out the majority of the nation’s basic research as well as a substantial proportion of its applied research, having performed, for example, 51 percent ($41.3 billion) of all U.S. basic research and 21 percent ($18.6 billion) of all applied research in 2013 (NRC, 2014b; NSB, 2016). While industry is the largest performer by far in terms of expenditure of total U.S. research and development (R&D) monies, universities are second. As the decades have passed, the reach of academia and its pursuits into the very infrastructure of the United States have become manifest in critical ways. These
can roughly be broken down into two categories of benefit: economic- and knowledge-based.
The value of academic research begins with its importance to the individual researcher and ultimately reaches far beyond the institutional campus. Academic research institutions are drivers of economic development in their local and state economies and, by extension, the national economy. Academic research institutions have been shown to have a positive effect on metropolitan economies, and the most prominent research universities have a strong impact on their regional economies (Lendel, 2010). Academic research institutions have a major economic function in providing a combination of traditional employment, goods, and services for the local community, and they are also a source of growth and development for a number of different economic sectors at both a local and national level (Comerio, 2000). They can demonstrate a statistically significant effect on variables like regional employment, follow-up industry R&D, wages, patents, and start-up companies, showing an overall positive role in regional economic performance (Lendel, 2010). Indeed, a recent study of nine major academic research institutions participating in a metrics initiative, which collectively received about $7 billion in R&D funding from all sources in
2012 (56 percent of which was federal), found that those research institutions spent almost $1 billion of research expenditures on goods and services from U.S. vendors (Weinberg et al., 2014). More than 16 percent of this went to the institution’s home county, more than 16 percent to the remainder of the home state, and the rest was spent across the United States (Weinberg et al., 2014).
Large institutions can affect business volume though direct expenditures for goods and services, capital, and pay and benefits, and through indirect expenditures by suppliers within the state and induced spending by employees, students, and visitors (University of Washington, 2014). The University of Washington (UW) calculated that it generated $12.5 billion in economic impact within the state of Washington during fiscal year (FY) 2014 (University of Washington, 2014). The University of Illinois (UI) estimated that for the same fiscal year its operations generated an added $13.9 billion to the Illinois economy (EMSI, 2015). In FY 2014, UW sustained, either directly or indirectly, nearly 80,000 jobs, more than 45,000 of which were related to UW Medicine, and it was the third largest nonfederal employer in the state. From 1974 to 2009, UW received more federal funding than any other U.S. public institution. It maintains more than 20 NIH research cores and centers of excellence, and it received nearly $557 million in NIH funding in 2014 alone, a figure that increases to $719 million when UW Medicine affiliates are included (University of Washington, 2014).
Figures like this demonstrate not only the level of NIH investment in major academic research institutions, but also the power that institutions have to drive economic benefits in and beyond their communities. In the case of UW, its sponsored research in FY 2014 supported 14,427 jobs and generated $75.2 million in state and local tax revenue (University of Washington, 2014).
A key driver for the development of the industrial biological sciences sector is a state’s base of institution research–related assets and excellence, which provide the bench-side elements required for advancing biological development (Battelle and BIO, 2014a). On a state-by-state basis, California ranks first in academic bioscience R&D expenditures. NIH funding to California institutions in FY 2012 was $3.3 billion, and state academic expenditures on bioscience that year were $5.1 billion (Battelle and BIO, 2014b). Bioscience is a major element of California’s industry, with industry employment at more than 235,000 jobs, or 15 percent of the national sector.
Academic research institutions are also engines of education and workforce development. They are central both to the development of the U.S. workforce and to providing sources of employment for these workers. Academic research institutions play large roles in enhancing the human capital in the local community and state by attracting and training researchers from around the nation and the world. U.S. academic research institutions are
the primary source of the workforce trained in research, including undergraduates, graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and faculty (NAE, 2003). The U.S. doctoral-level academic workforce numbered just below 370,000 in 2013, the majority of which was U.S.-trained (Falkenheim and Hale, 2016).
The foundational purpose of research is to generate knowledge. Beyond the economic effects that the academic biomedical research community generates, the community creates knowledge which in turn affects society in myriad ways. Academic value streams provide benefit in the form of outputs like primary research articles, conference abstracts, and the development of national repository databases; patents, licenses, and intellectual property transfer agreements; jobs; enhanced science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education; and increased gross domestic product (GDP) (NIH, 2014).
Much of the research conducted at academic research institutions is multiyear, and the value of ongoing research is high. Research knowledge output can be easily measured in two ways: publications and patents. U.S. research accounted for just under one-fifth of the global output of peer-reviewed and published research in science and engineering (S&E) in 2013; academic researchers contributed about three-quarters of this (NSB, 2016). The medical, biological, and other life sciences account for a large portion of the subject matter of these publications, collectively accounting for 48.7 percent of all S&E fields. Patents as a measure of output also demonstrate the significance of U.S. academic research to knowledge production: U.S. institutions were granted 5,990 patents in 2014 by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO); although the academic share of all USPTO patents has held steady at a modest 2 percent, the absolute number has continued to rise (NSB, 2016).
Through translational research and partnerships with industry, basic knowledge can become applied to solving problems and creating tools and technologies. The academic biomedical research community is, in fact, a major component of the global and national innovation system, and it trains individuals for careers and entrepreneurship in industry and provides a pathway for the commercialization of new ideas (NAE, 2003). For instance, academia provides a critical environment for research, development, testing, evaluation, and clinical trials for the medical device industry. UW is an incubator for technology start-ups through CoMotion, its center for commercialization, filing patents and disclosing innovations by the hundreds (University of Washington, 2017). UI reports that its Urbana–Champaign campus hosts a research park that is home to 90 companies
that employed more than 1,400 people in FY 2014 (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2015). The values that these kinds of translational activities confer to society are sufficiently broad and deep that they are difficult to fully capture or quantify.
As discussed, the academic biomedical research community also contributes knowledge and services to the HPH Critical Infrastructure Sector. This sector is dedicated to ensuring public health resilience, medical capacity, and health situational awareness and to strengthening global health (DHS, 2016). It includes research centers such as academic research institutions. Academic partners share the responsibility for securing and strengthening the resilience of the nation’s critical infrastructure (DHS, 2016).
Biomedical and biological research are public goods that generate scientific knowledge, affect the health of the public, and permeate other aspects of society (NIH, 2014). The United States leads the world in biomedical R&D spending. In 2012, one tally found that U.S. expenditures (public and private) totaled $119.3 billion, out of a total global investment of $268.4 billion; this amounts to 0.76 percent of U.S. GDP, which is a higher percentage than for any other nation (Chakma et al., 2014).
Estimates of biomedical and biological research expenditures vary depending on the categories and the definitions used. Research!America assessed U.S. expenditures in “medical and health R&D” to have been $158.7 billion in 2015 (Research!America, 2016) (see Table 1-1). This large figure includes inputs from many sources, including industry (the largest), the federal government, universities, state and local governments, independent research institutes, philanthropic foundations, and health associations. According to this study, the federal contribution to the total was $35.9 billion, and the lion’s share of that came from NIH, at nearly $30 billion. According to the National Science Board, the Department of Health and Human Services is the largest federal funder of academic R&D (55 percent of all federal agency contributions in 2014), and NIH is its primary distributor of those funds (NSB, 2016).
The National Science Foundation (NSF) calculated that federal government outlays for research in “life sciences” in FY 2014 totaled $30.7 billion (about $25 billion of which was administered by NIH), where life sciences encompassed biological sciences, agricultural sciences, environmental biology, medical sciences, and “other” (NSF, 2016a). Biological sciences, at $15.3 billion, was by far the largest of the categories, accounting for nearly half of the federal government’s total outlays for life sciences research, according to this study. Medical sciences accounted for an
|Industry (U.S. Operations)||2013||2014||2015|
|National Institutes of Health||$28,215||$29,400||$29,637|
|Department of Defense||1,018||1,226||1,194|
|Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services||656||997||971|
|Food and Drug Administration||718||764||801|
|National Science Foundation||697||675||694|
|Centers for Disease Control and Prevention||430||434||596|
|Department of Veterans Affairs||604||553||561|
|Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality||430||436||443|
|Department of Energy||284||304||290|
|Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute||17||132||238|
|Environmental Protection Agency||126||128||124|
|Department of Agriculture||56||20||24|
|Department of Transportation||47||49||45|
|U.S. Agency for International Development||75||41||42|
|Health Resources and Services Administration||37||38||41|
|Department of Commerce||31||31||34|
|Department of Homeland Security||26||36||27|
|Other Health and Human Services||21||21||20|
|Federal Government Total||$33,634||$35,435||$35,924|
|Academic & Research Institutions, Institution Funds||2013||2014||2015|
|Independent research institutes||3,676||3,799||3,921|
|Non-Research-Conducting Grant-Giving Entities||2013||2014||2015|
|State and local governments||1,413||1,499||1,535|
|Voluntary health associations & professional societies||1,216||1,283||1,322|
|Non-Research-Conducting Grant-Giving Entities Total||$5,982||$6,459||$7,545|
|Total U.S. Medical and Health R&D Spending||$140,107||$151,792||$158,716|
NOTE: Monetary figures in millions of U.S. dollars.
SOURCE: Research!America, 2016.
additional $11 billion. More than $20 billion of the $30.7 billion federal investment in FY 2014 went to institutes of higher education (NSF, 2016b).
By either NSF’s or Research!America’s analysis, NIH is the largest federal funder—at $25 billion of biological, medical, or biomedical research in the United States out of an investment of $30 billion (NSF, 2016a), or at $30 billion of biological, medical, or biomedical research in the United States out of an investment of $35.9 billion (Research!America, 2016). NIH provides a substantial investment that is second only to that of industry. Furthermore, NIH support for biomedical research has shown a drastic intensification over time that far exceeds that of any other discipline supported by the federal government (see Figure 1-2) (AAAS, 2016b).
Academia is the second largest performer of U.S. S&E R&D, trailing only the business sector. In 2013, the business sector accounted for approximately 70 percent of U.S. R&D, and universities and colleges were responsible for 14 percent, with the federal government, nonfederal governments, and other nonprofit organizations making up the remainder (NSB, 2016). Yet, as noted previously, the academic sector predominates in basic research, performing just over half of U.S. activity in this space. The source of this support is typically around 60 percent federal, with institutional funds supplying about 22 percent, and industry, state, and local governments and nonprofit organizations each providing around 6 percent (see Figure 1-3) (AAAS, 2016a). Thus, approximately 78 percent of funding for academic research in S&E is derived from external sponsorship.
As in many fields of S&E, academia is a major performer of biomedical and biological research. In 2016, NIH awarded $12.3 billion to medical schools alone (Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research, 2017). But the total performance of academia in life sciences far exceeds this.
In 2014, 54 percent ($34.5 billion) of total academic spending in S&E
R&D ($63.7 billion) was specifically in life sciences research (when agricultural sciences are excluded) (NSF, 2016b) (see Figure 1-4). Approximately 78 percent ($27 billion) of these funds for life sciences research came from sources external to the academic institution—that is, from research sponsors. Of these external sources, the federal government predominated, accounting for more than 74 percent ($20 billion).
The absolute and relative importance of academia to biological and biomedical research can be measured in a variety of ways. Fiscal investments in academic research affect the academic research institutions directly. Grants and other awards provide resources that allow institutions to sustain their central role in their communities, states, and regions as centers of employment and higher education. The NIH FY 2012 budget, for instance, supported grants to more than 2,500 academic research institutions for research programs incorporating more than 300,000 investigators and located in every state of the United States (NIH, 2014). Not only do these monies fund research staff, graduate students, infrastructure, equipment, and other
necessary elements of the research enterprise, they can also provide a return on investment to the academic research institution in the form of patents and licensing fees achieved as a result of the funded work, as discussed earlier (Mowery, 2009).
Because infrastructure is necessary to support research, capital expenditures are an allowable use of NIH grant funds, as long as there is prior approval (NIH, 2015). NIH also provides design requirements and guidelines as part of its Design Requirements Manual (NIH, 2016). The nature of these capital funds for biomedical research facilities and the extent to which they fund resilience in construction are discussed at greater length in Chapters 8, 9, and 10.
In 2013, the biomedical and biological sciences accounted for 27 percent of the research space at universities—the largest proportion of the major S&E fields—or 57.2 million net assignable square feet (net assignable square feet is a measurement of physical space for sponsored R&D) (NSB, 2016). In 2014, equipment costs for the life sciences (biological, medical, and other unclassified) were $651 million; depending on the subspecialty, federal funding paid for more than one-quarter to nearly half of this equipment (NSB, 2016, Appendix Table 5-11).
The United States has experienced and continues to face the threat of disasters, which can have significant impacts on the academic biomedical research community. These are the same kinds of events that affect other populations and communities, whether business or residential. From the flooding, winds, earthquakes, and fires that characterize many natural disasters, to tactics such as arson and cyber attacks that terrorists and other criminals may employ, the academic biomedical research community is vulnerable. Like all U.S. communities, the academic biomedical research community requires constant vigilance if it is to be prepared for a wide range of events, from power outages to terrorist attacks. Resilience is a goal sought by all sectors of American society. And, given academia’s substantial integration within the national fabric, the contribution that academia makes to national resilience will be critical.
Since the federal disaster declaration was introduced as a presidential authority in 1953, the number of annual declarations has increased (Lindsay and McCarthy, 2015). The three categories of federal disaster declarations authorized by the Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (P.L. 93-288)—emergency declarations, major disaster declarations, and
Fire Management Assistance Grant (FMAG) Program declarations—all show a sizable rise over the past several decades:
- Emergencies: In the 1970s, the average number of annual declarations was 12.8. After a steep drop in the 1980s to 1.5, the number rose again by the 2000s to 15 and has since remained near that level. Most emergency declarations are for hurricanes, followed closely by snow events (Lindsay and McCarthy, 2015).
- Major disasters: In the 1950s, the average annual number of declarations was 13.4; this rose to 56 during the 2000s and has risen higher still in the first few years of the current decade. Most major disaster declarations are for severe storms, flooding, hurricanes, and tornadoes (Lindsay and McCarthy, 2015).
- FMAG: In the 1970s and 1980s, these declarations averaged about three per year; by the 2000s the average had risen to 55. The first few years of the 2010s have averaged 48.4 fire declarations per year (Lindsay and McCarthy, 2015).
For major disasters alone, presidents issued 35 percent more declarations during fiscal years 2002–2011 than during the preceding 10-year period (GAO, 2012a). A variety of factors are posited to have led to the rise in all declarations, such as an increase in severe weather incidents, federal policy changes, and growth in populations and development with little regard for building with resilience in mind. Regardless of the causes, the frequency of declarations has risen and so too have their costs (Lindsay and McCarthy, 2015). The frequency of billion-dollar disasters is increasing at about 5 percent annually (Smith and Katz, 2013). A Government Accountability Office analysis of spending for all major disaster declarations indicates that the Federal Emergency Management Agency obligated about $10 billion annually from 2004 to 2011 (or $5 billion if the costs for Hurricane Katrina are excluded) (GAO, 2012b). These post-disaster costs are in addition to the sudden and dramatic allocation since 9/11 of billions of dollars annually in obligations to state and local governments for enhanced preparedness for disasters of all types (GAO, 2012a).
Disasters may necessitate these kinds of massive expenditures to support the rebuilding of critical public infrastructure, homes, and businesses; workforce development; the provision of health and human services; and the restoration of care delivery systems (IOM, 2015). Federal disaster assistance provides significant financial support to affected states and communities, but that does not mean that all costs are covered. Furthermore, not all events reach federal declaration thresholds: less than 10 percent of U.S. disasters receive a federal disaster declaration (FEMA, 2010). The response and costs even for these federally-declared disasters will generally still be
borne at the private, local, or state level, whether directly or via insurance payments. Insured losses in 2015 in the United States due to natural disasters totaled $16.1 billion; 2011 and 2012 were among the costliest years for insured disaster losses in U.S. history (III, 2016). The degree to which losses are reimbursed by private or public insurance can vary with the type of disaster.
Terrorism and other criminal activity may also cause considerable damage to infrastructure. As the nation deals with the threat of terrorism both international and domestic in origin, the academic biomedical research community is similarly challenged by extremism. Aside from the fact that many academic research institutions reside in major cities, which are considered relatively high-risk locales for major terrorist attacks, academic research institutions may be at specific risk from animal rights or environmental extremists as well as from those carrying out cyber hacking and other cyber intrusions. A searchable database compiled by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Response to Terrorism indicates that 168 terrorist attacks occurred against U.S. educational institutions from 1970 to 2015 (START, 2015). These incidents amount to a few per year and do not appear to be trending upward.
Cyber intrusions, however, are becoming increasingly common, and academic research institutions may be a prime target. A security industry study found that from 2006 to 2013, more than 500 universities reported a data breach; in 2014 the education sector was the recipient of 10 percent of catalogued attacks, placing it third overall and ahead of the government and financial sectors (Symantec, 2015; Wagstaff and Sottile, 2015). The Federal Bureau of Investigation has cited a variety of reasons for this, including the high value of stolen information, intellectual property, or products that allow adversaries to gain advantage, to bypass expensive research and development, to reach the market with innovative ideas first, or to achieve more nefarious purposes (FBI, 2011). Indeed, to the extent that academic research involves storage of big data, additional vulnerabilities arise: the reliance on databases and cyberinfrastructure to collect, store, and analyze data subjects these data storage sites to flooding with false information or to hacking, which can lead to serious security breaches, especially if the data relate to select agents and other significant pathogens (AAAS, 2014).
Ultimately, disasters affect communities in a variety of ways, including social, psychosocial, sociodemographic, socioeconomic, and political, in addition to the physical damage to homes, businesses, equipment, infrastructure systems, and human life (Lindell and Prater, 2003). Physical destruction is often considered a direct loss or a loss in asset value, whereas the consequences of that destruction tend to manifest as indirect losses of income and impacts on the environment that are less easily stated in mon-
etary terms (NRC, 1999). Whether direct or indirect, the ultimate impacts of disasters on communities can be significant, with individual- and population-level effects on physical, mental, and social well-being (IOM, 2015).
When Tropical Storm Allison began its development across the west coast of Africa near the start of the 2001 hurricane season, no one yet knew that it would cause catastrophic flooding at the medical school at the University of Texas Health Science Center (UTHSC-H), displacing 3,200 faculty, staff, and students for more than a month (Goodwin and Donaho, 2010). More than 1 million gross square feet of space for teaching, research, support, and animal care were out of service for even longer. The flash floods produced by the storm destroyed years of stored research data and drowned thousands of animals within the Texas Medical Center complex. Total losses for UTHSC-H were estimated at $205.4 million; only $50 million was covered by insurance.
These and other disasters explored in the coming chapters have challenged the ability of the academic biomedical research community to provide its many beneficial contributions to society. Yet the protection of research as a critical national resource and economic driver has historically been less of a priority than promoting the research itself. However, the contribution of the academic biomedical research community to workforce development, employment, and intellectual and economic productivity means that the consequences of the disasters it experiences can permeate deeply the lives of researchers and their laboratories; their institutions; and even up to their sponsors across their local communities, states, and the nation. Chapter 2 will explore disaster impacts in detail. Box 1-4 briefly highlights these impacts.
The committee is to some extent limited by insufficient evidence of the ways in which prior disasters have negatively (or positively) affected the scientific and other outcomes described in this report and has, therefore, in part relied on experience, inference, and gray literature to assess the impacts of disasters. The kinds of events that can have notable impacts are generally low-probability events, with few opportunities for data capture to date. Furthermore, when observations about them are made, they are not necessarily captured in a scientific way. The research that does exist tends to be discipline-based and lacking in comprehensive best practices.
Even less is published on the subsequent impacts of mitigation measures on research-related outcomes, a fundamental flaw hindering any academic research institution’s capacity to instate useful resilience measures. ASPR conducted a workshop in 2012 at NIH to discuss the critical window of opportu-
nity that exists for conducting research during emergencies and the potential need to develop such a research capacity (ASPR, 2012). The National Library of Medicine’s online Disaster Information Management Research Center could be one forum through which to promulgate such research.
Nevertheless, disasters already experienced by the academic biomedical research community have demonstrated a wide range of observable short-term and long-term impacts. These examples, discussed in further detail in Chapter 2, emphasize the consequences to all levels of the academic biomedical research community when research is not protected in advance of disasters. They also reveal areas of opportunity for improvement in prevention, protection, mitigation, response and recovery planning. The policy landscape is shifting toward an understanding of this reality, and as regulations and guidance are revised to reflect this reality, there exists substantial opportunity to achieve progress. Given the breadth of scope and the complexity of the subject matter, the committee expects that this initial product will prompt further work to advance the resilience of the academic biomedical research community and that of the nation.
The committee sought information through a variety of mechanisms (refer to Appendix A). The committee deliberated from March 2016 to February 2017, holding six 2-day meetings. The March, April, July, and November meetings included information-gathering portions open to the public (agendas from the public meetings held for this study are also available in Appendix A). The July meeting was a site visit to New York University Langone Medical Center and to the New York City Office of Emergency Management. The committee also solicited and considered written statements from stakeholders and members of the public. To the extent possible, the committee gathered empirical evidence by means of literature reviews to inform its consideration of the issues it was tasked with addressing. In areas in which empirical evidence was not available, many of the conclusions and recommendations offered in this report are based on the committee’s expertise and informed judgment. Overall, information was gathered from a review of peer-reviewed and gray literature as well as from discussions with key stakeholders from the academic biomedical research community and the disaster resilience community.
The committee recognizes that no one set of guidance and recommendations could apply to every situation. The committee’s objective was to provide a set of recommendations for key stakeholders that could be tailored for relevance to the academic biomedical research community and
the scale of any incident and would be of practical use during protection, prevention, mitigation, response, and recovery processes. The committee’s guidance and recommendations emphasize building upon successful emergency management principles, rather than reinventing the wheel.
Desiring this report to be of maximum utility to decision makers at all levels of the academic biomedical research community, the committee laid out guidance for researchers, academic research institutions, and research sponsors. The audience for this report includes
- research faculty, staff, and students;
- directors of research programs;
- academic institution leadership and departmental leadership from emergency management, facilities, capital planning, human resources, information technology and communications, legal counsel, and environmental health and safety, among others;
- federal and private research sponsors and stakeholders;
- governance and research regulatory bodies;
- associations for academic research institutions, emergency management, business, facilities, insurance, and risk management;
- first responders (i.e., fire, police, and emergency medical services);
- federal, state, and local officials who hold leadership roles in emergency management (i.e., health department staff, emergency managers, disaster resilience coordinators, etc.); and
- federal, state, and local policy makers (i.e., members of Congress, governors, mayors, city managers, and local council members).
This report is organized into three parts which collectively define the committee’s vision of a resilient academic biomedical research community and provide recommendations and guidance for how this vision can be achieved. The committee urges readers to consult not only the sections specifically related to their own fields of practice but also those related to others. The reader will observe from time to time across different sections a redundancy intended to enhance an integrated perspective.
Part I describes the various ways in which prior disasters have affected the academic biomedical research community (Chapter 2) and presents an overview of the academic biomedical research community and its key components in the context of disaster resilience (Chapter 3). Part II lays out the strategic planning process for academic research institutions to achieve
a resilient research enterprise by using the National Preparedness System (Chapter 4)—focusing on prevention, protection, and mitigation actions and priorities (Chapter 5), as well as response and recovery actions and priorities (Chapter 6). The final part discusses special considerations for laboratory animal research (Chapter 7), the built environment (Chapter 8), financial considerations (Chapter 9), and research sponsors (Chapter 10). Each chapter in these three parts concludes by highlighting the committee’s key messages and recommendations for strengthening the disaster resilience of the academic biomedical research community.
A resilient academic biomedical research community should plan to (1) protect human life, (2) protect research animals, (3) protect property and the environment, and (4) maintain the integrity and continuity of the research (see Figure 1-5).
Published research has documented that institutions currently focus too much attention on recent events during the planning process, which makes these institutions vulnerable to failure when a different event that was not considered in their planning occurs; therefore, it is recommended that institutions move toward resilience planning as a better strategy for dealing with disruptive events (Kapucu and Khosa, 2012). To achieve
resiliency, the academic biomedical research community should undergo all actions necessary to develop, sustain, and improve the ability of the research enterprise to mitigate against, prepare for, respond to, continue operations during, and recover from disasters.
The following chapters examine the actions, opportunities, and resources that are necessary to achieve a resilient academic biomedical research community and highlight the different and often complex roles that researchers, academic research institutions, and research sponsors all play in achieving the vision to “protect the nation’s biomedical research investment.”
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