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Senior Scholar Nancy Connell appointed to NIH National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity

Center News


October 24, 2018 – Nancy Connell, PhD, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, has been invited to serve a 4-year term on the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) of the National Institutes of Health.

The 25-member board, chartered by the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), advises on and recommends strategies for the efficient and effective oversight of federally conducted or supported dual-use biological research and related issues, taking into consideration national security concerns and the needs of the research community. NSABB members are appointed by the Secretary of HHS in consultation with other federal departments and agencies with an interest in life sciences research.

“I’m grateful for this exciting opportunity to collaborate with a diverse group of esteemed scientists on addressing the most significant life sciences research policy questions of our time,” said Connell. “Advances in biotechnology and related methodologies have enormous potential to benefit our world, but they could also lead to harmful consequences, intentionally or accidentally. It’s our responsibility as scientists to engage in thinking on biosecurity to lead policy development through a lens of scientific autonomy—ensuring regulatory efforts maintain a delicate balance between oversight and initiative and developing modes of strategic scrutiny that protect legitimate scientific exploration.”

Connell is a microbial geneticist by training. Her work at the Center focuses on advances in life sciences and technology and their application to a number of developments in the areas of biosecurity, biosafety, and biodefense, and she has a long-standing interest in the development of regulatory policies associated with biocontainment work and dual-use research of concern. In addition, Connell has considerable experience and interest in pedagogy, with a focus on ethics education and the responsible conduct of research. She serves or has served on numerous notable boards and committees related to her decades of expertise in biological threats.

Before joining the Center, Connell was professor and director of research in the Division of Infectious Disease in the Department of Medicine at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and the Rutgers Biomedical Health Sciences.

“I hope you will give us the benefit of your valued counsel,” wrote HHS Secretary Alex M. Azar in his department’s invitation to Connell.

Since its inception more than a decade ago in response to the anthrax attacks, the NSABB has submitted a number of reports advising the US government on issues related to dual-use research and hosted a series of international meetings to facilitate engagement and raise awareness.

More information on the NSABB is available at

About the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security:
The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security works to protect people from epidemics and disasters and build resilient communities through innovative scholarship, engagement, and research that strengthens the organizations, systems, policies, and programs essential to preventing and responding to public health crises. The Center is part of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and is located in Baltimore, MD.