Call for Applications: Fellowship for Ending Bioweapons (2023–2024)

In a time of rising geopolitical tensions and the continued emergence of biological events, the devastation that biological threats can cause is clearer than ever. Whether biological threats arise naturally, by accident, or through a deliberate effort to weaponize infectious diseases, they pose grave risks to international security and stability, and significantly impact the welfare and health of people around the globe. The urgency for mitigating this area of catastrophic risks is further driven home by Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine and concerns that its leaders might consider using weapons of mass destruction in conflict, which includes biological weapons, and continued misinformation and disinformation related to biological weapons threats.

The Council on Strategic Risks (CSR) is continuing to develop and cultivate creative solutions to help address biological threats, including a particular focus on reducing risks of the deliberate weaponization of infectious diseases. As part of this work, CSR is announcing a call for applications for the 2023–2024 class of our Fellowship for Ending Bioweapons. Applications are due by 5pm Eastern Daylight Savings Time on March 24, 2023. Four to six Fellows will be selected. 

In this one-year Fellowship, successful applicants will work with leading experts committed to biological threat reduction and biosecurity, including former government officials who helped dismantle Cold War-era biological weapons capabilities, advance international biological cooperation, and drive policy progress. They will interact with current and former government leaders as well as private and public sector innovators. Activities will include:

  • Monthly virtual meetings with mentors from CSR and its network. In these sessions, Fellows will increase their understanding of historical and current biological weapons risks, share research they conduct, and explore specific issues focused on reducing biological weapons threats and advancing international biosecurity norms.
  • Three workshops among Fellows and select experts to deeply explore dynamics behind addressing biological weapons risks. At least two and possibly all three workshops are likely to be held in person in different cities, though CSR will consider virtual or hybrid options if needed for safety or other reasons.
  • Opportunities to produce written products, podcasts, and more, based on the desires of the Fellowship group. 

Fellows will gain deep knowledge of what it takes to address biological weapons activities and a strengthened network among biosecurity and biotechnology experts. Moreover, they will have contributed unique ideas to the battle against biological threats. 

Informed by the unique experiences of its staff and years of collaboration across its expert networks, CSR’s work related to deliberate biological threats ties to a bold vision: making biological weapons the first category of weapons of mass destruction to be effectively eliminated, or rendered obsolete in terms of their mass-destruction potential. You can learn more about CSR’s approach for deterring biological weapons activities, improving biosecurity and biodefense, and augmenting international cooperation in our Handbook for Ending Catastrophic Biological Risks.

Eligibility: The Fellowship is open to applicants with a master’s degree or who are currently enrolled in a doctoral program in a related field and have a demonstrable interest in analyzing and addressing biological threats. This includes, but is not limited to, individuals who are at an early stage of their career which specifically focuses on biological threats and individuals that may have worked in an adjacent field in a different capacity, but find themselves drawn to work more focused on addressing biological threats. Eligibility for this Fellowship includes citizens from NATO member nations, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and the Republic of South Korea. [See note] 

Location & Travel: Fellows may work from any geographic location with strong internet access for conducting monthly video conferences. Fellows must commit to attending all of the monthly meetings and three workshops. Travel costs will be covered by CSR. 

Duration: The fellowship lasts for one year, beginning May 1, 2023.

Requirements and Benefits: The activities and related research discussed above will require approximately 15-20 hours per month, plus additional time for workshop participation in the months when they are held (approximately 2 days plus travel time). Some of this time will likely be during normal work hours. Each Fellow will receive a stipend of USD $1,000 per month.

Application Instructions: All applicants should complete a CSR application form (below) and upload a resume, cover letter, and an original writing sample authored solely by the applicant (500 words maximum). We also request contact details for two individuals whom we may contact for recommendations within either the resume or the cover letter. CSR may conduct telephone interviews with a small number of applicants in finalizing the selection of Fellows. 

Applications are due by 5pm Eastern Daylight Savings Time on Friday March 24, 2023.

[Note] This selection of nations is not intended to infer that valuable contributions are limited to individuals of any nation. Rather, it is shaped by the specific nature of this fellowship and the need to accommodate practical considerations, including interactions with officials of the U.S. and other governments

About the Council on Strategic Risks: 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. Its team members, advisors, and Board have experience in some of the highest U.S. government leadership positions in biosecurity. They hold deep ties to leading biotech innovators and current government officials, and have extensive global networks. This Fellowship is made possible by the generous support of Open Philanthropy.

Project Leads

Hon. Andy Weber – Senior Fellow, Council on Strategic Risks
Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Defense Programs

Christine Parthemore – Chief Executive Officer, Council on Strategic Risks


Categories & Related