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Center for Health Security Director Tom Inglesby Testifies at US House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee Hearing

Center News

Profile photograph of Tom Inglesby

February 1, 2023 – Today, Tom Inglesby, MD, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and professor in the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, provided expert testimony at a congressional hearing about biological attribution science.

The hearing was convened by the US House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.

In his testimony, Dr. Inglesby reflected on investigating the origins of pandemics and other biological events, known as biological attribution or bioattribution science. This body of work, he noted, is critical for national security and growing the US bioeconomy.

Dr. Inglesby also highlighted the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) report Pandemic Origins: Technologies and Challenges for Biological Investigations as a “highly valuable assessment of approaches used for biological attribution as well as policy recommendations aimed at advancing national capability in the field.” He voiced support for the report’s findings and recommendations, providing comment on several specific recommendations. He acknowledged that, as stated in the report, the US does not yet have an articulated strategy for developing the strongest possible national capacity for biological attribution or investigating pandemic origins and other biological events.

Finally, Dr. Inglesby discussed future opportunities for strengthening bioattribution science in the United States. In addition to reiterating support for the GAO report’s recommendations, he offered recommendations related to:

  • Identifying lead agencies and where major responsibilities for this work reside
  • Supporting scientific research and tool development
  • Budget planning
  • Sharing data

“Building stronger national capacity around the power to identify the origins of future pandemic and biological events, also called attribution science, should be a high priority for the Administration and Congress,” Dr. Inglesby said, concluding, “As we make forward progress in building this capability, we will be better prepared to investigate future biological events, better able to understand whether events emanated from nature or from laboratory settings, more likely to find where we might need changes in biosafety, better able to deter deliberate biological threats, and better able to protect our US bioeconomy.”

Read the full testimony. (PDF)

Watch the testimony.