Biological Threats Not a Thing of the Past, Warns Mason Professor

Posted: September 27, 2010 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: September 24, 2010 at 3:49 pm

Gregory Koblentz

Advances in science and technology, the emergence of new diseases, the rise of globalization and the changing nature of conflict have increased the risks posed by naturally occurring and man-made biological threats, warns Gregory D. Koblentz, Mason assistant professor of public and international affairs.

Koblentz will discuss these issues in a lecture, “Biosecurity in the 21st Century,” on Monday, Oct. 4, at 7 p.m. at the Center for the Arts on the Fairfax Campus. He’ll reprise the lecture on Tuesday, Oct. 5, at 7 p.m. at the Hylton Performing Arts Center on the Prince William Campus.

From the anthrax letter attacks of 2001 to the H1N1 influenza pandemic in 2009, we’ve already witnessed several new and emerging biological threats this century, he points out.

Despite the diversity of biological threats and disagreement about how to define biosecurity and the most urgent threats, the public health and national security communities must develop new capabilities, strategies and partnerships to address these new dangers, Koblentz urges.

A comprehensive definition of biosecurity that covers both naturally occurring and man-made biological threats is necessary to engage in multidisciplinary research, risk assessment and policy making, says Koblentz. His talk will provide an overview of the spectrum of biological risks we face today, discuss the challenges of developing effective biosecurity strategies and offer some thoughts on the future of biosecurity.

Koblentz is deputy director of Mason’s biodefense graduate program and an associate faculty member at the Center for Global Studies. He is also a member of the Scientists Working Group on Biological and Chemical Weapons Control at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation in Washington, D.C.

He is the author of “Living Weapons: Biological Warfare and International Security” published by Cornell University Press in 2009.

Koblentz received a PhD in political science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a master in public policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and a BA from Brown University. His research and teaching focus on international security and weapons of mass destruction.

Ticket information: At the Center for the Arts, free tickets are required. Tickets are available online, at the Center for the Arts Ticket Office (Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.), and on the evening of the event.

At the Hylton Performing Arts Center, admission is free and tickets are not required.

Write to mediarel at