June 6, 2017
Tara Kirk Sell, Crystal, Watson, and Matthew Watson

Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security faculty urge Congress to reject the severe cuts proposed by the Trump administration and to support the continuation of these and other critical national biopreparedness and response assets, which protect the health and safety of all Americans.

Public Health & Healthcare Preparedness
Joint Criminal and Epidemiological Investigations Handbook.
By working together, public health and law enforcement can achieve their shared objectives of identifying biological agents, preventing the spread of the disease, preventing public panic, and apprehending those responsible.  (CDC, Department of Justice, 6/5/17)
The Next Plague is Around the Corner.
Tony Fauci is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health. It's Fauci's job to stop plagues before they start. Recently, Fauci was asked which infection scared him the most. The questioner assumed that he would say Ebola or Zika or MERS or SARS -- all infections for which no vaccines and no anti-viral medicines are commercially available. But he didn't. "Pandemic influenza," he said.  (The Daily Beast, 6/4/17)
How Is CDC Funded to Respond to Public Health Emergencies? Federal Appropriations and Budget Execution Process for Non-Financial Experts.
 CDC authors describe 
the appropriation process, including supplemental appropriations that might come into play during public health emergencies, as well as the constraints under which Congress and federal agencies operate throughout the federal budget formulation process and execution.  (Health Security, 6/2/17)
At Home, GOP Senators Voice Skepticism About Passing a Health-Care Bill.
Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) sounded a deeply pessimistic note when he told a local television station he believes it's "unlikely that we will get a health-care deal." Earlier in the week, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said he doubted a bill could pass before the August recess.  (Washington Post, 6/2/17)
Food Safety Preventive Controls and Produce Safety Standards: Building Competency in Latin America in Support of the US Food Safety Modernization Act.
The activities undertaken under this Cooperative Agreement would be targeted to training FDA's regulatory counterparts who commit to doing further training in their respective countries, academia, and industry representatives.  (Grants.gov, 6/2/17)
Trump Won't Pay a Penny for UN Cholera Relief Fund in Haiti.
he Trump administration will rebuff a recent UN appeal to contribute millions of dollars to a cash-short trust fund established last year to provide relief to victims of a cholera epidemic that has killed more than 9,000 Haitians and sickened more than 800,000 more, according to US and UN officials.  (Foreign Policy, 6/1/17)
Hunting for Ebola Among the Bats of the Congo.
Virologist Vincent Munster usually works a continent away in a high-security lab run by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Hamilton, Montana, where he studies Ebola and other dangerous pathogens. These days, however, Munster talks less about viral genes and proteins than about virus ecology: the web of interactions that allows a zoonotic virus to travel between species.  (Science, 6/1/17)
Partnerships for Development of Clinically Useful Diagnostics for Antimicrobial-Resistant Bacteria.
The objective of this initiative is to support milestone-driven projects focused on the development of clinically informative diagnostic platforms that identify select antimicrobial-resistant bacterial pathogens and determine associated antimicrobial sensitivity and/or resistance.  (Grants.gov, 6/1/17)
CDC Says Virus-Removal Technique is Safe Option for HIV-Infected Men Who Want to Father Children.
For many years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it was too risky for infected men to have unprotected sex with uninfected women because that is one way the virus spreads. Infection of the baby is considered possible, but far less likely, CDC officials said. More recently, the agency said some couples can try to conceive if the man has been taking virus-suppressing HIV medications and the woman takes a drug that protects against infection.  (Washington Post, 6/1/17)
Multistate Outbreaks of Human Salmonella Infections Linked to Live Poultry in Backyard Flocks, 2017.
CDC, many state departments of health and agriculture, and the US Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service are investigating eight multistate outbreaks of human Salmonella infections linked to contact with live poultry in backyard flocks.  (CDC, 6/1/17)
Preparing for a Hurricane or Tropical Storm.
CDC strongly recommends that you print all important resources before a hurricane strikes. Power outages during and after a hurricane can prevent you from accessing information online when you most need it. Preparing now can help keep you and your family safe.  (CDC, 6/1/17)
First Responders - Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act Cooperative Agreement.
The purpose of this program is to allow first responders and members of other key community sectors to administer a drug or device approved or cleared under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act for emergency treatment of known or suspected opioid overdose.  (Grants.gov, 5/31/17)
Partnerships for the Development of Vaccines and Immunophrophylactics Targeting Multiple Antimicrobial-Resistant Bacteria.
The purpose of this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) is to support milestone-driven projects focused on discovery, establishment of proof-of-concept for, and/or preclinical development of, lead candidate vaccines or immunoprophylactics that target multiple antimicrobial-resistant Gram-negative bacterial pathogens prevalent in nosocomial infections.  (Grants.gov, 5/31/17)
Rep. Delaney Expresses "Very Little Support" of FY2018 Budget, Closing of National Biodefense Center.
"I am 100% opposed to the closing of the National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center in Frederick and will fight this deeply misguided move by the Trump Administration," Delaney said (Homeland Preparedness News, 5/31/17)

BARDA Backs Food-Grade Compound as Repellent Against Zika-Carrying Mosquitoes.
Nootkatone, a plant-derived compound, has demonstrated a great deal of potential for use against the Aedes mosquito vectors that transmit Zika, yellow fever, dengue, and chikungunya viruses. Nootkatone appears to have a mode of action distinct from that of currently used toxicants and therefore may overcome the resistance issues hampering current emergency control efforts.  (Global Biodefense, 5/30/17)
The USAID Global Health Challenge.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) invites organizations and companies to participate with USAID, in cooperation with its partners, in response to a Global Health Challenge Addenda issued under this BAA, as described below, to provide innovative interventions and technologies that further the US Government's commitment to prevent and manage critical global health challenges.  (Grants.gov, 5/30/17)
What Does Stigma have to do with Mental Health and Disasters?
Although many other barriers prevent people from seeking mental health care - lack of access to mental health care professionals, cost, cultural barriers, lack of symptom recognition - stigma remains one of the most concerning and, perhaps, preventable of all the things that make it difficult for people to pursue mental health care. It is an important factor for disaster responders to be aware of.  (ASPR, 5/30/17)

Another Deadly Consequence of Climate Change: the Spread of Dangerous Diseases.
Brian Deese (former adviser, Obama Administration) and Ronald A. Klain (former White House Ebola Response coordinator) describe how changing climates could potentially lead to an increase in the spread of dangerous epidemics and the risk of a global pandemic. (Washington Post, 5/30/17)


NIH Scientists Find Real-Time Imaging in Mice a Promising Influenza Study Tool.
A group from the NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases evaluated the live imaging system as a potential alternative to traditional methods of assessing investigative influenza vaccines and treatment in mice, which can be time consuming and require more study animals for valid statistical comparison.  (NIH, 5/30/17)

JHU/APL Awarded Contract to Expand ESSENCE Biosurveillance System.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced intentions to award a sole-source contract to the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU/APL) to provide enhancement and maintenance of the Electronic Surveillance System for the Early Notification of Community-based Epidemics (ESSENCE).  (Global Biodefense, 5/30/17)
Letter to the Honorable Roy Blunt and Patty Murray, Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies, US Senate.
 Senators Al Franken, Tammy Baldwin, Elizabeth Warren, and others urge their colleagues to invest in evidence-based federal, state, and local prevention and public health initiatives that are improving physical and mental health and in doing so restraining health care spending
(US Senate, 5/25/17)
President's FY2018 Budget Proposes Cuts in Public Health Service Agency Funding.
Among other things, the President's budget would cut funding for medical research, public health prevention programs, and mental health services.  (Congressional Research Service, 5/24/17)

Homeland Security & Disaster Preparedness
How GOP Leaders Came to View Climate Change as Fake Science.
The Republican Party's fast journey from debating how to combat human-caused climate change to arguing that it does not exist is a story of big political money, Democratic hubris in the Obama years and a partisan chasm that grew over nine years like a crack in the Antarctic shelf, favoring extreme positions and uncompromising rhetoric over cooperation and conciliation.  (New York Times, 6/3/17)
DHS Announces Funding Opportunity For Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 Preparedness Grants.
Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly today announced the release of Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 Notices of Funding Opportunity for 10 DHS preparedness grant programs totaling more than $1.6 billion. The grant programs provide funding to state, local, tribal, and territorial governments, as well as transportation authorities, nonprofit organizations, and the private sector, to improve the nation's readiness in preventing, protecting against, responding to, recovering from and mitigating terrorist attacks, major disasters and other emergencies.  (Department of Homeland Security, 6/2/17)

See also:
Disaster Agency To Weather Hurricane Season With No Leader, Proposed Cuts.
This year, key federal agencies that state and local governments and the public depend on still don't have leaders. Nearly five months after Donald Trump was sworn in as president, NOAA, the agency that oversees the government's weather forecasting, is still without an administrator, as is the agency that responds to disasters, FEMA.  (KNBA, 6/1/17)

See also:
United States Will Withdraw From Paris Climate Agreement, Trump Announces.
During an address delivered in the White House Rose Garden, Trump confirmed early reports that the United States would end its commitment to the 2015 pact among 195 nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and curb global warming.  (Mic, 6/1/17)

Bill to Establish Cyber Bug Bounty Program at DHS Introduced in Senate.
A bill to establish a bounty program where white hats, also known as ethical hackers, identify bugs in computer systems at the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in order to strengthen cyber defenses was recently introduced in the Senate by US Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH).  (Homeland Preparedness News, 6/1/17)
Synthetic Biology and the Chem/Bio Threat.
Synthetic biology, a set of technologies related to the design and fabrication of biological systems, poses an emerging hazard but also provides the tools to mitigate that hazard, according to a new DoD report to Congress on defense against chemical and biological weapons.  (Congressional Research Service, 5/30/17)

United States Fire Administration: An Overview.
The objective of the USFA is to significantly reduce the nation's loss of life from fire, while also achieving a reduction in property loss and non-fatal injury due to fire.  (Congressional Research Service, 5/26/17)

See also:

Radiological & Nuclear Disaster Preparedness
US and Canada Hold First Joint Nuclear Forensics Exercise.
The United States and Canada recently held the first joint nuclear forensics exercise between the two countries, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. The exercise simulated a nuclear detonation, allowing experts from both countries to improve operational readiness to respond to radiological or nuclear attacks.  (Department of Homeland Security, 5/30/17)

Science & Technology Policy

FDA Takes Bigger Role in Lowering Drug Prices.
In a major shift, new Commissioner Scott Gottlieb is creating an action plan to spur more competition and lower prices. (Washington Examiner, 6/5/17)


The Need to Accelerate Therapeutic Development - Must Randomized Controlled Trials Give Way?
Dr. Luciana Borio (FDA), Dr. Janet Woodcock (FDA), Dr. Robert Temple (FDA), and others will discuss the ethical, legal, medical, scientific, safety, and economic issues pertaining to the design of clinical trials. The event will take place at the New York Academy of Sciences on June 21-22, 2017. The event may also be livestreamed. Registration is required.  (New York Academy of Sciences, 6/17)
NSF, IARPA, and SRC Push into Semiconductor Synthetic Biology Computing.
Research into how biological systems might be fashioned into computational technology has a long history with various DNA-based computing approaches explored. Now, the National Science Foundation has fired up a new program, Semiconductor Synthetic Biology for Information Processing and Storage Technologies, and just issued a solicitation in which eight to ten grants totaling around $4 million per year for three years are expected to be awarded.  (HPC Wire, 5/18/17)
This Week's Hearings

Examining the Role of the Department of Health and Human Services in Health Care Cybersecurity. US House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. 6/8/17, 10:15 AM. Rayburn 2322. More


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