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Frequently Asked Questions

I'm new to the field—what is biosecurity?

"Biosecurity" refers to policies and actions that are taken to protect civilian and military populations against biological agents that might be intentionally released (such as anthrax or other pathogens on the Select Agents and Toxins list), as well as the actions taken to prevent or respond to serious naturally occurring epidemics, such as SARS, pandemic flu, or other important emerging infectious diseases.

Which professional sectors and disciplines are involved in biosecurity?

Professionals from government, industry, NGOs, and academia work in the field, which draws from numerous and diverse disciplines, including medicine, public health, social and life sciences, biotechnology, the pharmaceutical industry, national security, emergency management, first responders, law, and public policy.

Which US government departments or agencies have responsibility for biosecurity?

Responsibility for biosecurity is held by a wide range of experts from many different parts of government, including: Homeland Security, DoD, HHS (including CDC and FDA), USDA, and others. The National Response Framework’s Biological Incident Annex outlines the roles and responsibilities of federal departments and agencies in responding to a biological incident.

Why create an Emerging Leaders in Biosecurity Initiative?

An important part of the JHSPH Center for Health Security's mission is to encourage advances in biosecurity, and we see the initiative as an opportunity to help grow the next generation of leaders. We believe this initiative will play an important role helping professionals in biosecurity to innovate across disciplines and address key challenges in the field. The JHSPH Center for Health Security has long been recognized for its ability to convene diverse groups of stakeholders, a skill that will allow us promote dialog among promising young professionals and established leaders from across sectors. This initiative will also help us and other institutions and organizations in the field to identify rising talent for future careers.

Why is it important to build the next generation of biosecurity experts?

The biosecurity threats we face are complex, persistent, and evolving. A multidisciplinary cadre of biosecurity experts is needed to address these multifaceted challenges and to ensure that biosecurity remains a robust and vibrant field.

Biosecurity is a relatively new field in national and global security, and it will benefit from recruitment of young professionals who are considering careers in public health, science, research, academia, national security, or other professions relevant to biosecurity. Young professionals can bring new ideas and fresh thinking to the field, help foster multidisciplinary approaches to identify and solve complex problems, and enhance collaboration and communication among those working in biosecurity.

How will working in the in the field of biosecurity benefit my career development?

Working in the field may provide you opportunity to do the following:

  • Work in research, policy, practice, or academia

  • Collaborate with professionals from multiple areas of expertise;

  • Expand your knowledge and develop expertise in several subject areas;

  • Identify and propose solutions to critical security, scientific, and health challenges; and

  • Make contributions to improve policy and practice in biosecurity and national security.  

Why should I apply to be an Emerging Leaders Fellow?

One of the most difficult aspects of planning a career in biosecurity is not knowing how to go about getting involved, who to talk to, and how to meet established professionals in the field. The goal of the Emerging Leaders in Biosecurity Initiative is to guide young professionals toward the types of networking opportunities that are critical when starting out in the field. If you apply and are chosen for a fellowship, you will have many opportunities to engage in activities designed to help you do the following:

  1. Learn more about the different facets of biosecurity and identify career development options

  2. Build a network with senior leaders from across the biosecurity enterprise

  3. Connect with other talented young professionals in the field

  4. Refine and develop key professional skills to advance your career

  5. Access resources and participate in events on the most current and critical topics in biosecurity.

What does the Fellowship include?

  • Funding for travel to 2 meetings on biosecurity, including a symposium in the Washington, DC area.

  • Participation in webinars hosted by established biosecurity experts who will address hot topics and discuss their own career paths

  • Opportunity to submit a paper for presentation at a program meeting.

Is this a full-time fellowship? Will participation require taking a year off from my current job or studies?

No, this fellowship is not full time. It is a part-time activity that will require only a modest commitment of time. Participation does not require relocation. However, all Fellows are strongly encouraged to attend the program’s 2 conferences and to participate in webinars.

Will my travel expenses to attend events sponsored by the Initiative be reimbursed?

All Fellows will have travel expenses covered for the 2 meetings. Reimbursable expenses include air travel, ground transportation, and hotel stays. Meals will be provided at these events.

How do I apply to be an Emerging Leaders in Biosecurity Fellow?

Complete the online application form and submit the required supplementary application materials. 

Please direct all questions about the application process to Matthew Watson at