College of Veterinary Medicine hosts global security experts for panel discussion on cooperative threat reduction and capacity building
Monday, June 13, 2016
MANHATTAN — Two top global experts in biological threats and international security will visit the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University on Wednesday, June 15, to discuss cooperative threat reduction and capacity building.
The noon panel discussion will take place in the Mara Conference Center on the fourth floor of Trotter Hall and is sponsored by the college's International Programs office. This event is free and the public is invited.
The panel will feature Andrew Weber, former assistant secretary of defense and deputy coordinator for Ebola response at the U.S. Department of State, and David Elliott, lead in cooperative threat reduction at Defense Science and Technology Laboratories, government of the United Kingdom.
"Over the course of history, most pathogens that have been used as bioweapons and in bioweapons development have been animal pathogens or zoonotic agents — those pathogens that affect animals and humans," said Keith Hamilton, executive director for the College of Veterinary Medicine's International Programs. "This is because these pathogens have a severe impact on animal health, human health, food security, food safety and economies. Animal pathogens are potentially attractive to terrorists because they are cheap, widely available and easy to pass through security checks undetected."
Hamilton said that the mechanisms to prevent, detect and respond to unnatural disease outbreaks — accidents or intentional releases — and natural day-to-day disease outbreaks are essentially the same and the best way to protect against all biological threats is to invest in strong, well-governed health systems in all countries as health systems are global public goods.
"Veterinarians stand in the front line in protecting society from all of these biological threats," Hamilton said. "Cooperation between the security and veterinary sectors is essential to minimize biological threats of unnatural origin. This is why we have invited these two guests to our campus to discuss these issues."
"In addition to highlighting the wealth of knowledge and capacity available at the College of Veterinary Medicine, which can support biological threat reduction activities, this is an opportunity for our campus to engage and learn from a pair of individuals with firsthand knowledge and experience," said Tammy Beckham, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine.
Weber has helped lead diplomatic outreach to ensure a speedy, effective and truly global response to biological threats. He served until October 2014 as assistant secretary of defense for nuclear, chemical and biological defense programs at the State Department. In this capacity, he focused on preventing, protecting against and responding to weapons of mass destruction and terrorism threats. He supported international efforts to eliminate Syrian and Libyan chemical weapons, and strengthen global health security. In October 2014, President Obama asked Weber to serve as deputy coordinator for the Ebola response at the State Department.
Elliott has spent several years with the U.K.'s cooperative threat reduction program, working closely with his counterparts from the U.S. and Canada, and other countries in the G7 Global Partnership against weapons of mass destruction. Elliott was and is responsible for engaging and building trust with the key intergovernmental animal health agencies — the World Organization for Animal Health and the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization — to support biological threat reduction activities. He has been a key advocate of investing in animal and human health systems to reduce biological threats from all quarters, including natural, accidental and intentional releases. On the ground he has been responsible for establishing and managing a range of capacity building initiatives across North Africa, the Middle East and Asia.