There cannot be a clearer demonstration of the capabilities of the biological sciences as the technical response to SARS-CoV-2. The pace and progress of the research on the virus, as well as the rapid shift for biotech and pharmaceutical companies to address urgent needs are some of the most hopeful developments in what has otherwise been a disaster for the world. The bioeconomy was important before, but now it has demonstrated its significance to non-scientists, including decision makers, internationally. As nations around the world absorb these developments as they make substantial investments to develop their biotechnology infrastructure and workforce, it will be important to consider what governance is needed, including an ethical framework, and what security is required. At the close of 2020, this is a good time to take stock of what has worked well, and what steps still need to be taken to build a resilient future bioeconomy.
Dr. Gronvall is a Senior Scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and an Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She is an immunologist by training.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, she has led the Center’s ongoing efforts to track the development and marketing of molecular and antigen tests and serology tests, as well as the development of national strategies for COVID-19 serology (antibody) tests and SARS-CoV-2 serosurveys in the United States. She has also written about the scientific response to the COVID-19 pandemic and implications for national and international security.
Dr. Gronvall is the author of Synthetic Biology: Safety, Security, and Promise. In the book, she describes what can be done to minimize technical and social risks and maximize the benefits of synthetic biology, focusing on biosecurity, biosafety, ethics, and US national competitiveness – important sectors of national security. Dr. Gronvall is also the author of Preparing for Bioterrorism: The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation’s Leadership in Biosecurity. Through her description of major grants that represented the foundations investments in civilian preparedness, public health law, law enforcement, air filtering in buildings, influenza preparedness, and business preparedness, she constructed, for a nontechnical audience, a chronicle of early gains in US efforts to confront the threat of bioterrorism.
Dr. Gronvall is a member of the Threat Reduction Advisory Committee, which provides the Secretary of Defense with independent advice and recommendations on reducing the risk to the United States, its military forces, and its allies and partners posed by nuclear, biological, chemical, and conventional threats. In 2014-15, she led a preparatory group that examined the US government response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa as a case study for Department of Defense’s strategic role in health security and made recommendations for future Department of Defense actions in response to disease outbreaks. She is also a member of the Novel and Exceptional Technology and Research Advisory Committee, which provides recommendations to the Director of the National Institutes of Health and is a public forum for the discussion of the scientific, safety, and ethical issues associated with emerging biotechnologies.
She served as the Science Advisor for the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism from April 2009 until the Commission ended in February 2010. She has testified before Congress about the safety and security of high-containment biological laboratories in the United States and served on several task forces related to laboratory and pathogen security. Dr. Gronvall has investigated and presented policy recommendations on the governance of science to the Biological Weapons Convention in Geneva, Switzerland.
In addition to being a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Dr. Gronvall is an Associate Editor of the journal Health Security (formerly Biosecurity and Bioterrorism). She is a founding member of the Center. Prior to joining the faculty, she worked at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Civilian Biodefense Strategies. She was a National Research Council Postdoctoral Associate at the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases in Fort Detrick, Maryland.
Dr. Gronvall received a PhD from Johns Hopkins University for work on T-cell receptor/MHC I interactions and worked as a protein chemist at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. She received a BS in biology from Indiana University, Bloomington.
For details of her research and recent publication, please visit HERE
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