Deadly viruses and other pathogens may be used by terrorists or rogue states against military targets or may be introduced into urban or rural environments to threaten human populations or the agricultural supply.
Defense against bacterial agents such as anthrax and a range of viral agents requires developing pre-symptomatic ways to rapidly identify new pathogens, develop preventative and therapeutic remedies that are effective against specific agents or genetically engineered variants. However, it is generally easier for biological terrorists to produce modified versions of viruses such as Ebola, Marburg, Machupo, Sabia and others than it is to develop means of protection against a wide class of such agents. This inherent asymmetry creates the need for new approaches to biosensing, such as immunosignature generation, that can enable rapid and specific bioagent detection, characterization, exposure assessment, pathogen inactivation, and effective bioremediation.
ASU faculty researchers reflect a broad range of subject matter expertise directly relevant to numerous aspects of biosecurity. This includes water system security for protecting the network of canals and aqueducts leading to major Southwestern metropolitan areas, where the ability to monitor and rapidly detect, identify, and remediate bioagent threats is essential. ASU’s Security and Defense Systems Initiative includes the Center for Environmental Security that draws on this deep bench of expertise, augmented by partnerships with industry and government, to assemble exceptionally capable research teams that can address key aspects of the biosecurity threats we face.