Biodefense Degree in Hand, Michael Krug Works to Solve Pandemics and Emerging Threats

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Originally published on June 16, 2020

Mitigating the relentless spread of COVID-19 is a top priority, and global health security has taken center stage. Schar School of Policy and Government 2020 Master’s in Biodefense graduate Michael Krug recently secured a position as a Global Health Officer working in the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Pandemics and Emerging Threats.

Before joining the Schar School, Krug received his bachelor of science in biochemistry from Virginia Tech University. His science training led to work in drug development before realizing his interest in biodefense policy.

“I was looking for something that would provide me with a policy background,” said Krug. “I found the [Schar School’s] Master’s in Biodefense program, and it has helped to hone my skills with policy knowledge.”

Krug made the most of his time at the Schar School: He is the co-founder of the George Mason University chapter of the Next Generation Health Security Network; as a student he helped secure special speakers for the classroom, including former Senate Majority Leader Thomas Daschle who recalled his office’s 2001 anthrax scare; and he held internships at the Department of Health and Human Services and the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a think tank focused on global security threats, including pandemics.

For his efforts, Krug was selected as the 2020 Outstanding Biodefense Master’s Student. (Read the story in the Pandora Report.)

“Michael has a real passion for bridging the gap between science and policy,” said biodefense graduate programs director Gregory Koblentz. “I’m very glad he will be able to apply what he’s learned in the program to strengthening global health security.”

Adjunct Professor Andrew Kilianski was instrumental in bringing Krug up to speed on recent developments using a classroom exercise. Kilianski, by the way, was recently appointed to the Department of Defense’s Operation Warp Speed program to develop a vaccine for the novel coronavirus.

 “In my class with Professor Kilianski we did a crisis simulation on exactly what is occurring right now,” Krug said. “In terms of policy, it was a really hands-on experience and helped us understand what decisions have to be made and when.”

Unsurprising, Krug has worked extensively on issues related to COVID-19. “The pandemic has been a really hot topic,” he said. “As a fellow for the Center for Security Policy Studies, I wrote a blog post about the end of funding for the PREDICT project, which was a program that went around the world looking for novel or unknown viruses.”

The core events in his current job is to strengthen global health security. “It is a relatively small office with a really big footprint,” said Krug. “The overall goal is to raise awareness to health risks around the world.

“We’re looking at the interconnectedness of countries and being the voice of these global health programs,” he said.