Policy Exchange: The Future of Global Health Security

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You’re invited to attend a virtual session for prospective students to learn more about the Schar School of Policy and Government and our graduate programs. This event highlights faculty from our Master's in Biodefense program, but all prospective students are invited to attend.

The COVID-19 pandemic revealed unexpected weaknesses in our preparedness for pandemic threats, and it continues to pose serious challenges around the world. How are health authorities in the United States and around the world trying to reduce these vulnerabilities so we are better equipped for the next pandemic?

Join faculty members from the Schar School’s Biodefense master’s program as we discuss the future of global health security considering lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic.

DATE: Wednesday, October 13, 2021 at 5:30 p.m. ET (Virtual Event)
FEATURING: Adjunct Professors Ashley Grant and Andrew Kilianski, and Term Assistant Professor Saskia Popescu. Moderated by Associate Professor Gregory Koblentz, director of the Master's in Biodefense Program.


Adjunct Professor Ashley Grant, a lead biotechnologist at the MITRE Corporation, previously served as the senior biological scientist at the Government Accountability Office where she led government-wide technical performance audits focused on biosafety and biosecurity issues. She was an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science and Technology Fellow in the Chemical and Biological Defense Program Office in the Department of Defense and worked at the National Academies of Science on the Committee on International Security and Arms Control.

Adjunct Professor Andrew Kilianski is currently the Senior Director, Emerging Infectious Diseases at IAVI. At IAVI he leads strategy development, key stakeholder engagement, and current and future execution of IAVI’s growing emerging infectious disease vaccine and therapeutic portfolio. Prior to IAVI, Andy was working at the Department of Defense as a Senior Scientist and Program Manager. He has led numerous scientific, analytic, and programmatic efforts to counter emerging threats internationally and within the United States working collaboratively with a variety of government, NGO, and foreign partners. He started his scientific career as a National Academy of Sciences Fellow, working as a principal investigator on research programs aimed at characterizing emerging infectious disease threats with next-generation sequencing and multiomics approaches. He received his Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology from Loyola University Chicago where he discovered virus-host interactions necessary for coronavirus pathogenesis and leveraged these pathways for vaccine design and antiviral drug development.

Associate Professor Gregory D. Koblentz is the Director of the Biodefense Graduate Program at George Mason University's Schar School of Policy and Government. The Biodefense Graduate Program is a multidisciplinary research and education program designed to prepare students to work on issues at the nexus of health, science, and security and bridge the gap between science and policy. He also directs the Virtual Summer Workshop on Pandemics and Global Health Security at the Schar School. Dr. Koblentz is an Associate Faculty at the Center for Security Policy Studies at George Mason and a member of the Scientist Working Group on Biological and Chemical Security at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation in Washington, DC. In 2016, he briefed the United Nations Security Council on the impact of emerging technologies on the threat posed by non-state actors armed with weapons of mass destruction. He serves as a pro bono advisor for the Open Society Justice Initiative and DARPA, as a consultant for the Stimson Center on their cheminformatics program, and is a member of the Biothreat Advisory Board of Heat Biologics.

Term Assistant Professor Saskia Popescu recently created and disseminated a gap analysis for a six-hospital system to establish vulnerabilities for high-consequence diseases, helping to guide the creation of a high-consequence disease initiative to enhance readiness at the health care level. This work aided in rapid and coordinated responses to COVID-19. Popescu is certified in infection prevention (CIC), hospital preparedness through FEMA’s NIMS, and pandemic preparedness from the DHS Center for Domestic Preparedness. She currently serves as a member of the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) Coronavirus Taskforce and is a member of the Committee on Data Needs to Monitor Evolution of SARS-CoV-2 within the Health and Medicine Division of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM).