July 11, 2017
Tom Inglesby, Director, Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security

The publication of the experimental work that synthesized horsepox is imminent, according to multiple reports. Horsepox no longer exists in nature, so this was the creation of an extinct virus in the same genus as smallpox. It doesn't infect people, but causes pox disease in horses. Researchers have cited several objectives for the work, including the intention to develop it as a smallpox vaccine, the intention to develop it as a virus-based cancer treatment, and the intention to show that synthesizing smallpox de novo is possible.

Public Health & Healthcare Preparedness
Trauma Readiness Bill Advanced by House Energy and Commerce Committee.
A bill that establishes a grant program for military-civilian partnerships in trauma care to allow both the military and private citizens to benefit from each other's expertise was recently advanced by the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The bill specifically aims to bridge the gap between military and civilian trauma care providers.  (Homeland Preparedness News, 7/10/17)

Secretary Price Appoints Brenda Fitzgerald, MD, as CDC Director and ATSDR Administrator.
Dr. Fitzgerald has been the commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health and state health officer for the past six years. She replaces Dr. Anne Schuchat, who has been the acting CDC director and acting ATSDR administrator since January 20. Dr. Schuchat is returning to her role as CDC's principal deputy director.  (Department of Health & Human Services, 7/7/17)

Strengthening Public Health Laboratories.
The purpose of this supplemental funding opportunity aims to promote quality and safe Public Health Laboratory (PHL) practice; improve PHL infrastructure; strengthen the PHL system and develop a well-trained PHL workforce. Activities conducted will use science-based knowledge to identify best practices that will improve PHL effectiveness, capabilities and sustainability.  (Grants.gov, 7/7/17)
26 Key Bioterrorism Jobs the Trump Administration Has Not Yet Filled.
Within the US government, there are many positions across multiple agencies and departments that are vital for national decision-making about how to prevent, detect and respond to bioterrorism threats. But a large number of key positions remain unfilled by the Trump administration, including positions involved in making decisions about response, funding and medical countermeasures.  (Washington Post, 7/7/17)
Reducing Disparities in Vaccination Coverage Among Adolescents Living in Rural Areas.
The purpose of this project is to: 1) obtain a better understanding of the factors contributing to vaccination disparities observed between adolescents living in rural areas compared to adolescents living in urban areas within the United States; and, 2) implement and evaluate an intervention(s) to improve vaccination coverage among adolescents living in rural areas.  (Grants.gov, 7/6/17)
Forget Sanofi's Zika Shot. A New Measure Would Limit Pricing on all DoD-Funded Medication.
Under an amendment to the military spending authorization now working through Congress, the Department of Defense would have the power to invite in new competition to certain drugs and vaccines it helped research. Proposed by Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, the measure would apply to products whose prices are markedly higher in the US than in other high-income countries.  (Fierce Pharma, 7/6/17)
Building Public Health Infrastructure in Tribal Communities to Accelerate Disease Prevention and Health Promotion in Indian Country.
This five-year funding opportunity (five-year project period, one year budget period) offers support to tribal entities to increase public health capacity and infrastructure for chronic disease prevention, health promotion, and prevention and control of priority public health problems, by strengthening core public health functions of American Indian and Alaska Native tribes, tribal organizations (including tribal epidemiology centers), urban Indian organizations and intertribal consortiums, representing or serving at least 60,000 American Indians and Alaska Natives.  (Grants.gov, 7/5/17)
CDC Ethiopia Supports Efforts to Fight Brucellosis in Ethiopia.
CDC experts provided technical assistance for a field study to estimate the prevalence of Brucella and provided training and supplies to national reference laboratories under Ethiopia's Federal Ministries of Health & Livestock and Fisheries.  (US Embassy, Addis Ababa, 7/5/17)

HHS Awards $15 Million for Flint, Michigan Families Affected by Lead Exposure.
The HHS funding is authorized under the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act and the Public Health Service Act. It is earmarked for helping residents who are experiencing health issues linked to exposure to the local water supply.  (Healthcare IT News, 7/5/17)
Determining and Monitoring Health Conditions Among US-Bound Refugees and Other Globally Mobile Populations.
The purpose of this NOFO is to conduct public health research on endemic, neglected, emerging or re-emerging infectious diseases, and other conditions of public health importance, in US bound refugees and other globally mobile populations, in order to promote health and prevent disease in domestic and international populations.  (Grants.gov, 7/3/17)
Congress Moves to Stop IRS from Enforcing Health Law Mandate.
The plan is separate from Republican efforts to repeal the health care law, and appears more likely to be adopted because it would be written into the annual spending bill for the Treasury and the IRS. But it has a similar purpose: to weaken the health law that President Trump and Republicans in Congress want to dismantle.  (New York Times, 7/3/17)
Comparison of the American Health Care Act and the Better Care Reconciliation Act.
The AHCA and the BCRA both contain provisions that could restrict federal funding for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and its affiliated clinics for a period of one year, and each would appropriate an additional $422 million for FY2017 to the Community Health Center Fund. Both would repeal all funding for the ACA-established Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF), and both would repeal many of the new taxes and fees established under the ACA.  (Congressional Research Service, 7/3/17)
Standards for Pathogen Detection for Biosurveillance and Clinical Applications Workshop.
The purpose of this workshop is to present state-of-the-art pathogen detection technologies, primarily related to sequencing, emphasizing the need for standards relevant to the clinical diagnostic and biothreat detection stakeholder communities. Speakers will include subject matter experts from industry, academia, and government. The workshop, hosted by NIST, will be held August 14-15 in Gaithersburg, MD. Registration is required.  (NIST, 7/17)
GenomeTrakr: How a Large Network of Sequencing Laboratories is Transforming Food Safety and Public Health.
The FDA-established GenomeTrakr is an innovative response to this global public health challenge that uses a cutting-edge technology called Whole Genome Sequencing WGS. This presentation will discuss the example of the 2015 Virginia sprout outbreak, where WGS provided the lead. This session of FDA Grand Rounds will be webcast on Thursday, July 13 at 12 PM EST.  (FDA, 7/17)
Development of New Tuberculosis Drug Regimens-Scientific and Clinical Design Considerations.
This public workshop, hosted by FDA, is intended to provide information for and gain perspective pertaining to development efforts around new in vitro and in vivo models, new biomarkers and tuberculosis diagnostics, assessing the contribution of 2 or more new components used in combination for to a tuberculosis regimen and clinical trial design challenges. The workshop will be held on July 19, 8:30-5 PM EST.  (FDA, 7/17)
Memorandum of Understanding Between the Food & Drug Administration and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
This memorandum of understanding establishes a framework for collaboration between FDA and the BMGF to facilitate existing and new mutually agreed upon programs and activities and to carry out their common goal to improve public health by stimulating and fostering medical product innovation and enabling medical product development.  (FDA, 6/27/17)

Homeland Security & Disaster Preparedness
The Pentagon Ponders the Threat of Synthetic Bioweapons.
With new gene editing tools like CRISPR-Cas9, state enemies could, theoretically, create unique organisms by mixing-and-matching bits of genetic information. Christian Hassell, deputy assistant secretary of defense for chemical and biological defense, and his colleagues at the Pentagon funded a year-long review by the National Academies of Sciences of the biodefense vulnerabilities created by synthetic biology.  (Wired, 7/10/17)
FY 2017 Homeland Security Preparedness Technical Assistance Program.
The Homeland Security Preparedness Technical Assistance Program is established to build State, local, tribal and territorial capabilities to prevent, protect against, respond to, and recover from major events, including threats or acts of terrorism. Through this NOFO, FEMA will provide financial assistance to support the National Homeland Security Consortium and the Governors Homeland Security Advisors Council.  (Grants.gov, 7/7/17)
Chemical and Biological Defense: DoD Has Identified an Infrastructure Manager and is Developing the Position's Roles and Responsibilities.
While not complete, the roles and responsibilities defined thus far for the Infrastructure Manager include providing overall coordination, integration, and oversight function for CBDP infrastructure. However, it is too early to evaluate the effectiveness of DOD's efforts to develop and implement the roles and responsibilities of the Infrastructure Manager since DOD's efforts are still in process.  (GAO, 7/7/17)
Stopping Weapons Dead in Their Tracks: Export Controls, Nonproliferation Tools.
Preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems, as well as conventional weapons, remain among the highest national security priorities in the United States.  (Department of State, 7/6/17)
Army Issues New Counter-WMD Doctrine.
Countering weapons of mass destruction is "an enduring mission of the US Armed forces," the US Army said last week in a new doctrinal publication.  (Federation of American Scientists, 7/5/17)

Climate Change: Frequently Asked Questions About the 2015 Paris Agreement.
The Paris Agreement requires that nations submit pledges to abate their greenhouse gas emissions, set goals to adapt to climate change, and cooperate toward these ends, including mobilization of financial and other support. The negotiators intended the PA to be legally binding on its Parties, though not all provisions in it are mandatory.  (Congressional Research Service, 6/28/17)

Radiological & Nuclear Disaster Preparedness
Trump's Budget Would Leave US Ports Open to Nuclear Threat.
The Trump budget doesn't just take aim at port security funding - it also would slash the US Coast Guard budget, which provides layers of protection by tracking incoming vessels, scanning for illicit weapons, and making sure foreign ports have adequate security.  (Foreign Policy, 7/6/17)

Bison Thunder: NNSA and FBI Conduct WMD Counterterrorism Training in North Dakota.
The exercise drew 91 emergency responders and law enforcement officials from Fargo and the surrounding area to the United Blood Services facility and challenged them to refine strategies and techniques for radiological security and incident response.  (NNSA, 7/6/17)
Regulatory/Scientific Challenges and Benefits of Repurposing Licensed Products for a Radiation Indication.
This meeting will be hosted by the Radiation and Nuclear countermeasures Program, Division of Allergy, Immunology, and Transplantation, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The meeting will be held on August 29, 2017; registration is required.  (NIAID, 7/17)

Science & Technology Policy
The Gaping, Dangerous Hole in the Trump Administration.
The law that created the Office of Science and Technology Policy obligates the president to name a director, a position the Senate must confirm. Trump has not done that yet, and there are no indications that he will anytime soon. Without science and technology advisors in the White House, President Trump could struggle to respond to crises.  (MIT Technology Review, 7/7/17)
Innovation vs. the Ants.
Years of federal belt-tightening have starved laboratories of funding for routine maintenance, and the deterioration has reached the point that some researchers say the nation's ability to conduct cutting-edge science is being damaged.  (Politico, 7/6/17)
How NASA Uses Telemedicine to Care for Astronauts in Space.
Telemedicine is a key component of medical care on the International Space Station. While doctors have always communicated with the crews of short missions, largely to guide them through acute spaceflight-specific health issues, today's long-duration and exploration missions require space medicine to fulfill a much wider-ranging mandate and extend beyond minor illness and urgent care.  (Harvard Business Review, 7/6/17)
IARPA Seeks Tech to ID Bioengineered Life Forms.
Article text: IARPA said its Finding Engineering-Linked Indicators (FELIX) program looks to develop new tech that can spot genetically engineered changes within biological systems to spur "mitigation responses to unlawful or accidental release of organisms.  (FCW, 7/5/17)

This Week's Hearings
Combating the Opioid Crisis: Battles in the States. US House Committee on Energy & Commerce, Subcommittee on Oversight & Investigations. 7/12/17, 10 AM. Rayburn 2123.  More

US Fire Administration and Fire Grant Programs Reauthorization: Examining Effectiveness and Priorities. US House Committee on Science, Space, & Technology, Subcommittee on Research and Technology. 7/12/17, 10 AM. Rayburn 2318.  More

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