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Gerald L. Epstein, PhD

Contributing Scholar

Professional Profile

Dr. Epstein is a Contributing Scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. He joined the center after retiring from his position as Distinguished Fellow at the National Defense University’s (NDU’s) Center for the Study of Weapons of Mass Destruction, where he addressed challenges posed by nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, particularly the security implications of advanced life sciences, biotechnologies, and other emerging and converging technologies. He came to NDU from the White House Office of Science and Technology (OSTP), where he was Assistant Director for Biosecurity and Emerging Technologies, serving on detail from his position as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Policy at the Department of Homeland Security.

Before joining the Department of Homeland Security in 2012, Dr. Epstein directed the Center for Science, Technology, and Security Policy at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Prior positions were with the Center for Strategic and International Studies; the Institute for Defense Analyses; the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government, where he directed a project that produced the volume Beyond Spinoff: Military and Commercial Technologies in a Changing World (1992); and the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment, where he directed a landmark study on the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. He served in a previous White House position from 1996 to 2001, ultimately in a joint appointment as Assistant Director of OSTP for National Security and Senior Director for Science and Technology on the National Security Council staff.

Dr. Epstein created and taught courses on arms control and nonproliferation at Princeton University and on science, technology, and homeland security at Georgetown University.  He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the AAAS and is a member of the editorial boards for the journals Health Security and Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology. He is a member of the Board on Life Sciences at the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), where he previously served on the Biological Threats Panel of the Committee on International Security and Arms Control, as well as on the committees that produced Leveraging the Future Research and Development Ecosystem for the Intelligence Community (2022), Safeguarding the Bioeconomy (2020), and Beyond Fortress America: National Security Controls on Science and Technology in a Globalized World (2009). He received SB degrees in physics and electrical engineering from MIT and a PhD in physics from the University of California at Berkeley.