Media Advisory: The Council On Strategic Risks Offers Expertise On Biological Threats to Assist With COVID-19 Response

Media Advisory

Date: March 13, 2020
Contact: Francesco Femia, ffemia at csrisks dot org


Washington, DC – The Council on Strategic Risks (CSR) is focused on anticipating, analyzing and addressing core systemic risks to security – and we have a team of experts with significant experience on the intersection of public health and security, including at the departments of Defense and Homeland Security and the White House. Recently, we, in partnership with Sandia National Labs, published a ground-breaking report “Making Bioweapons Obsolete” that looks seriously at how the world can try to end widespread biological threats to security. 

In this context, CSR feels it is its duty to offer lessons to the media and public on the security dimensions of biological threats, in order to assist, in some small way, with management of the current COVID-19 threat. Here is what CSR can offer:

– Lessons from Ebola response. The CSR team (see list of names below) has deep experience and expertise on the importance of international coordination, especially with allies and partners, on addressing biological threats. For example, key members of our team played a central role in managing the 2014-15 Ebola crisis.

– Insights from bio-preparedness programs and exercises. Members of the CSR team were centrally involved, during their time at DoD, with US-Republic of Korea exercises of biological attacks, which featured scenarios for naturally-occuring outbreaks and pandemics. CSR experts collectively spent decades working with international partners in augmenting health security and biodefense capabilities, and in overseeing defense investments in biosurveillance, medical countermeasure development, and disease diagnostics.

– Bio threats/outbreaks and disinformation. The CSR team has deep personal experience dealing with disinformation around biological threats and outbreaks, including as it relates to Russian propaganda that U.S. Nunn-Lugar labs in Georgia & Kazakhstan were bioweapons programs. This is also a topic that features in our “Making Bioweapons Obsolete” report with Sandia.

– US government organization for bio and health security leadership. Members of the CSR team led historical efforts to elevate U.S. government leadership in bio/health threats and to organize for maximum impact.

Our leading experts include:

– Andy Weber, Senior Fellow, the Council on Strategic Risks; Deputy Coordinator for the Ebola Response at the Department of State (2014-15) and former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Defense Programs  

– Christine Parthemore, CEO, the Council on Strategic Risks; former Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Defense Programs

– Natasha Bajema, Senior Fellow, the Council on Strategic Risks; former defense WMD expert, and author of fiction novels on biological threats

Sherri Goodman, Chair of the Board, the Council on Strategic Risks; former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense (Environmental Security)

– Alice Hill, Board Member, the Council on Strategic Risks; Senior Fellow for Climate Change Policy, the Council on Foreign Relations; former Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Resilience Policy on the National Security Council

Rear Admiral Kenneth Bernard MD, USPHS (Ret), Advisor, The Janne E. Nolan Center on Strategic Weapons, The Council on Strategic Risks; former Special Assistant to the President for Biodefense on the Homeland Security Council (HSC)

Contact: Francesco Femia, ffemia at csrisks dot org

More information:

CSR website:

CSR’s “Janne E. Nolan Center on Strategic Weapons”:

CSR and Sandia Lab’s “Making Bioweapons Obsolete” report:

The Council on Strategic Risks (CSR) is a nonprofit, non-partisan security policy institute devoted to anticipating, analyzing and addressing core systemic risks to security in the 21st century, with special examination of the ways in which these risks intersect and exacerbate one another.



Categories & Related