Writing in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette last week, Governor Tom Ridge and Tara O’Toole remind us that dangerous diseases are emerging more and more frequently, and that investment in bioscience is critical to fight these drug-resistant infections.
When we cannot or fail to halt this spread, they create epidemics. This summer, the world is struggling to contain the spread of the Zika virus. Last fall, it was Ebola. Before that, it was MERS, SARS, avian flu.
Ridge and O’Toole point out that as biotechnology advancements are made worldwide, so is the ability to build biological weapons. If we are not prepared, a biological attack could have massive casualties – a disaster no one is prepared to handle at the time. With the support of the U.S. government, we need to use bioscience to rapidly develop and manufacture new antibiotics, antivirals, and vaccines to prevent such catastrophic loss from happening.
Just as the United States put its full force behind the physical sciences during and after World War II, the U.S. government now must establish long-term public-private partnerships to translate our extraordinary knowledge of the living world into durable solutions to hard problems.
American ingenuity and investment can and will help us save lives when the next inevitable threat emerges. But, in order to do so, the government needs to make bioscience a priority and prevent avoidable delays from keeping lifesaving products from protecting our citizens.
Read the full op-ed here.