UPMC Center for Health Security

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The UPMC Center for Health Security (formerly the Center for Biosecurity of UPMC), located in Baltimore, MD, is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit Center of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. The Center's stated mission is to protect people's health from the consequences of epidemics and disaster and to ensure that communities are resilient to major challenges.

The original center, known as the Johns Hopkins Center for Civilian Biodefense Studies, was started by D. A. Henderson at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The founding members included Tara O'TooleTom Inglesby, and Monica Schoch-Spana. At that time, the Center was the first and only academic center focused on biosecurity policy and practice. The Center's work helped to define the character and potential consequences of major biological threats (i.e., the category A biological agents), the policies needed to protect the nation, and the response capacities necessary to diminish their effects. 

In 2003, the Center joined the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) under the name Center for Biosecurity of UPMC. From 2003-2013, the Center's work continued to focus on strengthening national security by reducing the risks posed by biological attacks, epidemics, and other destabilizing events, with a particular focus on events that create public health emergencies, as would a large scale bioterrorism attack. 

In 2013, the Center changed its name to UPMC Center for Health Security and updated its mission to more accurately reflect the breadth of its work.

Current Mission Statement[edit]

"The UPMC Center for Health Security works to protect people’s health from the consequences of epidemics and disasters and to ensure that communities are resilient to major challenges.

The Center examines how scientific and technological innovations can strengthen health security. We advance policies and practice to address a range of challenges, including the global rise in emerging infectious diseases, a continued risk of pandemic flu, major natural disasters, our dependence on vulnerable infrastructure, outbreaks of foodborne illness, and the potential for biological, chemical or nuclear accidents or intentional threats.

An important part of our mission is to connect diverse and international communities of health and science experts, industry representatives, and government officials to strengthen collective efforts to improve health security.

The Center conducts independent research and analysis, and we communicate our results to inform the work of decision makers across communities. We do this work through the combined talents of our scholars in science, medicine, public health, law,social sciences, economics and national security."[1]

Leadership and Staff[edit]

Current Chief Executive Officer and Director: Tom Inglesby, MD, an infectious diseases physician and founding member. He has held the position since 2009.

Current Chief Operating Officer and Deputy Director: Anita Cicero, JD, who came to the Center in 2009 from the Washington, DC, office of Drinker, Biddle & Reath, LLP.

Founders and Previous Leaders: Founding director D. A. Henderson held that post until shortly after the 9/11 attacks, when he was asked to serve first as Director of the HHS Office of Public Health Emergency Preparedness and then as Principal Science Advisor in the Office of the Secretary of HHS. Henderson returned to the Center as a Distinguished Scholar, a position he still holds.

When Henderson departed, Tara O'Toole became and remained director until 2009, when she was appointed DHS Under Secretary for Science and Technology. O'Toole's deputy director, Tom Inglesby, one of the founding members, was then appointed director, and he brought on Anita Cicero as his deputy. 

Staff: The Center is known for its multidisciplinary approach to research and policy analysis and has long employed experts from the array of fields related to biosecurity, and now health security: medicine, public health, national security, law, government, and the biological and social sciences. Current (2013) senior staff members include: Amesh Adalja, MDGigi Kwik Gronvall, PhDRyan Morhard, JDAnn Norwood, MDJennifer Nuzzo, SMMonica Schoch-Spana, PhD;  Eric Toner, MDJackie Fox, and Randy Larsen.

Sample of Contributions to the Field[edit]

Consensus guidelines for medical and public health management of the category A biological agents: One of the Center's earliest contributions to the field was a series of papers published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) that detailed consensus guidelines for medical and public health management of anthraxsmallpoxplaguebotulinum toxintularemia, and the hemorrhagic fever viruses

Major bioterrorism exercises: The Center is also well known for hosting two high level bioterrorism exercises: Dark Winter (2001) and Atlantic Storm (2005), both of which were instrumental in illuminating the threat and challenges posed by biological weapons.

Developing new leaders in the field: In 2012, the Center started a new initiative, Emerging Leaders in Biosecurity, to identify and support the next generation of leaders in the field.


The Center launched the first and only peer-reviewed journal in the field, Biosecurity and Bioterrorism: Biodefense Strategy, Practice, and Science in 2003. The journal is published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. Co-Editors-in Chief are Tom Inglesby and D. A. Henderson, and Jackie Fox is Managing Editor.


The Center publishes 3 electronic newsletters: Health Security Headlines (daily news), Clinicians’ Biosecurity News (bi-weekly; issues in biosecurity of interest to a clinical audience), and Preparedness Puslepoints (weekly; tracks USG action on preparedness and response). There is no charge to subscribe to any of these newsletters, all of which can be accessed through the center’s main website.

The Center maintains several websites: UPMCHealthSecurity.org is the main website. It is content-rich and provides access to all Center publications, events, other multimedia, Congressional testimony, and the exercises Dark Winter and Atlantic Storm. The Center's other sites include: Clinicians’ Biosecurity News, Infectious Disease Cost Calculator, Rad Resilient City, and Emerging Leaders in Biosecurity.

Book: In 2012, the Center published Preparing for Bioterrorism: The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation’s Leadership in Biosecurity (author Gigi Kwik Gronavll), a retrospective review of Sloan’s work in the field. 

All Center-authored publications dating back to 1998 are available on the Center's website.

Major Conferences and Events[edit]

*Atlantic Storm. January 2005

*Dark Winter. June 2001


Further reading[edit]