International Biodefense Conference Gets Under Way

Posted: November 24, 2003 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Patty Snellings

George Mason’s National Center for Biodefense (NCBD) opens its first international biodefense conference today at the Hilton Arlington & Towers. The two-day program, cosponsored by Georgetown University, has attracted participants from the United States, Canada, Sweden, Russia, Singapore, and Taiwan.

“Crossing Boundaries: Medical Biodefense and Civilian Medicine” explores unique approaches to fighting diseases caused by biological weapons that could be released during a terrorist event. The mission of the conference is to introduce new information to the field of biodefense from traditional knowledge bases and to expand the use of biodefense products and substances into these areas for possible treatment of other diseases.

“This is the first time NCBD has offered an international biodefense conference,” says Jerald Coughter, the university’s director of life sciences management. “The agenda shows how biodefense and civilian medicine are directly related and sets the standard for future programs.”

Tom Hennessey, George Mason’s chief of staff, and Spiros Dimolitsas, senior vice president and chief administrative officer at Georgetown, open the conference and welcome approximately 100 attendees from biotechnology, government/military, and research arenas. NCBD research professor Raymond Weinstein delivers the keynote presentation, “A Study of the Relationship Between Smallpox and the Emergence of HIV.” Assistant Secretary of State Paula DeSutter, also a featured speaker, discusses “Five Key Issues Affecting Biodefense.” C. J. Chen, economic and cultural representative from Taipei, Taiwan, delivers today’s luncheon address.

Sessions include presentations and discussions on topics such as the immune system, pathogenesis and virulence, new targets for intervention and drug development, and medical diagnostics. Moderators are Ken Alibek, NCBD’s executive director for education; Eric A. Henchal, commander, U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases; John R. Richert, chairman, department of microbiology and immunology, University of Rochester; and Peter B. Jahrling, senior research scientist, U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases.

“High-caliber programming such as the Crossing Boundaries conference, unique research initiatives, and successful graduate programs originating from NCBD, along with its internationally renowned scientists,” explains Coughter, “are major contributors to George Mason’s growing reputation as a leader in life sciences research and education.”

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