Fellowship for Ending Bioweapons Programs

As the world continues to battle the novel coronavirus that leads to COVID-19, it is a stark reminder of the devastation biological threats can cause. And while this ongoing pandemic arose naturally, it reinforces the grave threat biological weapons still pose to international security and stability.

The Council on Strategic Risks (CSR) is developing creative solutions that could help end this threat. As part of this work, CSR hosts a Fellowship for Ending Bioweapons Programs. In this one-year program, Fellows work with leading experts from CSR’s team and network to generate ideas for ending the threat of state biological weapons programs. 

Together, the CSR team collaborates with the Fellows to explore wide-ranging ideas that governments, nonprofits, or other private organizations could pursue for addressing bioweapons threats. The Fellows  work to deepen our understanding of motivations for bioweapons programs, and foster creative ideas and options for the use of technologies, international cooperation, and engagement of non-traditional actors for the purpose of reducing biological weapons risks. 

Class of 2021-2022

Lt Nicolette Chimato

Lt Nicolette Chimato is an active duty Officer in the United States Marine Corps where she is trained in three different military occupational specialties to include Communications, Information Operations, and Psychological Operations. Prior to joining the service, she worked at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida as a Statistical Programmer Analyst where she had the opportunity to work with and learn from not only some of the best in the field of medicine and its accompanying research, but also the intentional leadership present throughout the organization. Nicolette will be attending Georgetown University as part of the Fall 2021 cohort of students in pursuit of a Master of Science in Biohazardous Threat Agents and Emerging Infectious Diseases. Nicolette hopes that the fellowship will provide her with not only the ability to advise Commanders and policy makers in and out of the service, but also that she will be able to advocate for informed decision-making as our world becomes increasingly more complex.

Jonathan Frist

Jonathan Frist is a Director of Business Development at Ginkgo Bioworks, where he focuses on Concentric by Ginkgo, a pandemic response and biosecurity business unit. Prior to that Jonathan spent 10 years in the U.S. Government, holding leadership positions in Washington DC, Africa and the Near East with the State Department and the Intelligence Community. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and Middle Eastern Studies from Vanderbilt University and is completing an Executive Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Georgetown University, McDonough School of Business.

Daniel Gastfried

Daniel Gastfriend is currently the Director for Biodefense at the White House National Security Council. From March 2020 to April 2021, he served on the federal COVID-19 response, where he launched and co-led the Data Strategy and Execution Workgroup, an interagency team of more than 100 members from over a dozen federal agencies that coordinates data and analysis efforts across the whole-of-government COVID-19 response. He is on detail from the National Security Programs office at the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, where he covered a $6 billion portfolio including the State Department's Global Health Programs and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. Prior to working in the federal government, Daniel was a visiting scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, where he researched strategies to accelerate medical countermeasure surge manufacturing to combat catastrophic pandemics. He previously worked as a management consultant with Bain & Company in South Africa and as a policy consultant with IDinsight in Uganda and India. He holds a Master in Public Administration in International Development from the Harvard Kennedy School and a Master of Business Administration from the Harvard Business School, where he was a Baker Scholar. He received his Bachelor of Arts from the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs. He is a Truman Scholar.

Anjali Gopal

Anjali Gopal is a Ph.D. candidate in the UC Berkeley - UCSF Graduate Program in Bioengineering. Her research interests are at the intersection of microfluidics, single-cell analysis, and computational biology. Previously, she worked as a bioinformatics technician in a yeast genomics laboratory at the University of Toronto, and as an Engineering Intern at Baylis Medical. Anjali is actively interested in emerging technology policy, and aims to leverage her scientific training for pandemic preparedness and bioweapons prevention initiatives. She has a Bachelor’s of Applied Sciences in Nanotechnology Engineering from the University of Waterloo.

Dr. Jaspreet Pannu

Dr. Jaspreet Pannu is a resident physician at Stanford University where she treats patients and completes research with an infectious diseases & global health focus. She received her M.D. from Stanford School of Medicine and B.Sc. in Biology with first-class honours from McGill University. She previously worked on machine learning and artificial intelligence tools for healthcare at Google AI, and has worked on biosecurity policy at the Future of Humanity Institute, Oxford University. Most recently, she worked with the Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense to outline their recommendations in The Apollo Program for Biodefense - Winning the Race Against Biological Threats report.

Class of 2020-2021

Chris Bakerlee

Chris Bakerlee is a PhD candidate in Harvard University's Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology and a Fellow in the 2020 class of the Emerging Leaders in Biosecurity Initiative at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. He is focusing his career on mitigating catastrophic anthropogenic biological risks. In his research, Chris uses the tools of experimental evolution, synthetic biology, and genomics to probe the genetic bases of complex traits in budding yeast. More specifically, he studies patterns of higher-order interactions among mutations across the genome, trying to understand their implications for organisms' fitness and populations' adaptive trajectories across environments. Prior to graduate school, Chris studied mechanisms of antibiotic killing in the lab of Jim Collins at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and bacteriophage evolution in the labs of Daniel Weinreich and Paul Turner at Brown University and Yale University, respectively. After graduating with a BA in Biology from Brown in 2012, Chris worked as a management consultant in McKinsey & Company's Boston office, where he served major healthcare providers and medical device, pharmaceutical, and consumer health companies. He also supported the Arkansas Department of Human Services in their roll out of novel provider payment mechanisms in the wake of the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion. While a graduate student, Chris led the 2019-2020 Emerging Tech Policy Network with the support of the Technology and Public Purpose project within the Belfer Center at Harvard's Kennedy School. He has written about the threat of engineered pathogens for Vox.com.

Dr. Steph Guerra

Dr. Steph Guerra is a biomedical research scientist currently working at the Office of Research and Development at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) as an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science and Technology Policy Fellow. Her work at the VA focuses on building research and clinical infrastructure to drive research impacts and to support Veterans’ access to opioids management and precision oncology care. Prior to her time with the VA, Steph served as a Mirzayan Science Policy Fellow at the National Academies of Science where her projects centered on expanding the diversity, equity, and inclusion of the scientific community. Steph is a member of the inaugural Day One Project cohort, a policy proposal accelerator dedicated to democratizing the policymaking process. Her Day One policy proposal focuses on accelerating the adoption of high-quality healthcare delivery through coordination of the innovation, demonstration, and implementation authorities of the VA and Health and Human Services (HHS). Throughout her career, she has worked as a consultant for organizations dedicated to increasing the civic engagement of scientists, communicating science to various stakeholders, and developing health policy strategies. She received her Ph.D. from Harvard University in Biological and Biomedical Sciences and her B.S. in Biological Sciences and B.A. in Hispanic Studies from Carnegie Mellon University. Steph is excited to leverage her expertise in biomedical research and science policy to work with CSR to develop creative solutions to end the threat that bioweapons pose to our society.

Dr. Damien Soghoian

Damien Soghoian is the Head of Strategy and Operations at Foresite Labs, where he is part of the leadership team and focuses on the incubation of new healthcare and biotechnology companies that use the tools of data science to solve unmet medical needs. Damien is also a member of the investment team at Foresite Capital Management, a healthcare venture capital and private equity firm. Damien is passionate about the intersection of life sciences and technology and how private sector innovation can benefit public health. Prior to his transition to the investment world, Damien was an early member of Google Life Sciences (now Verily Life Sciences), where he was science lead for the Project Baseline health study and served as technical lead for immunology, driving the deployment of Verily’s immunology platform across multiple collaborations. Damien received his B.S. in Biology from Caltech and a Ph.D. in Virology from Harvard University and has experience in systems biology, immunology, and biochemistry research and development across academia and industry.

Jacob Swett

Jacob Swett is a doctoral candidate at the University of Oxford, a Senior Research Scientist at Lockheed Martin Space, and Co-Founder of altLabs, a research non-profit focused on the development and advancement of technologies for biosecurity. He is a former Emerging Leader in Biosecurity Fellow and member of the Breakthrough Starshot Advisory Board. His research focuses on biosurveillance, molecular diagnostics, nanofabrication, and biosecurity. Much of his work aims to develop new technologies and systems for pathogen biosurveillance and more capable biosensors with a focus on nanotechnology, single-molecule, and SynBio enabled devices. He is driven to connect technology emerging in academic and industrial labs to implementation in real-world applications, with an emphasis on technologies with the potential to reduce risks of biological threats whether natural, deliberate, or accidental. Prior to Oxford he worked full-time at Lockheed Martin Space in Palo Alto, CA on nanotechnology and materials science technology for space and biomedical applications. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics, a Bachelor of Arts in German, and a Bachelor of Science in Applied Mathematics, with minors in Astronomy and Environmental Physics technology.