Back to Basics
David Walker, Executive Director of the Center for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases
David Walker |
Bioterrorism came into prominence after the US anthrax attacks of 2001, but even before then there was growing recognition that we needed medical countermeasures. Back in the 1990s, some of our researchers already had grants from DARPA because there was a feeling that bioterrorism could be dangerous and that it would be wise to have some plans in place. It’s not an area that can be ignored – if anything happens we need to have measures in place.
Of course, a bioterrorist attack is just one application of infectious disease. Mother Nature has actually done far worse with all of the things she’s thrown at us. In 1968, I committed myself to a career in infectious diseases – ironically the same year that the Surgeon General of the US (William H. Stewart) said that the war on infectious diseases was over, and that it was time to work on cancer and other things. Yes, we have vaccines and antibiotics, but over 80 new infections have been spawned by nature since then.
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