The Johns Hopkins Gazette: October 16, 2000
October 16, 2000
VOL. 30, NO. 7


Biodefense Center Gets Grant to Launch Educational Initiative

By Kathy Moore
School of Public Health
Johns Hopkins Gazette Online Edition

With a $300,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Center for Civilian Biodefense Studies at the schools of Public Health and Medicine will launch an educational initiative focusing on the public health implications of new and emerging infections. The project will analyze both the natural outbreak of deadly infections and the potential risks of man-made epidemics through the use of biological warfare.

"The world has already seen some very dramatic and serious infections that have wiped out millions of people. It is crucial that experts in the public health and medical community work together to develop tools that would create a response system to epidemic problems, including those caused by terrorists. We hope to help facilitate that progress--it is a crucial component to the well-being of the global community," said project co-director Donald A. Henderson, University Distinguished Professor and director of the Center for Civilian Biodefense Studies.

The project will analyze the medical and public health capacities that are critical in responding effectively to epidemics and look at policy recommendations at the state and local levels that would help in developing the response systems.

"Public health agencies at the municipal, county, state and federal levels are central in recognizing and responding to infectious disease outbreaks," said project co-director Tara O'Toole, deputy director of the center. "It is obvious that the time it takes a community to diagnose and react to a disease outbreak is directly linked to mortality rates, morbidity and the spread of disease."

The project will begin this fall and continue for 12 months. During the first phase of the project, researchers plan to work with experts in hospital management and policy to create a map of policies and actions needed to prepare hospitals to respond to epidemics. The second phase will include an analysis of critical elements of communitywide epidemic response systems in order to identify any significant gaps that should be addressed.