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TOP Grant Awarded for Creation of Pandemic Program

1/1/2019 12:00:00 AM In 2018, a 3-year Tier One Program grant was awarded for the development of a Pandemic Preparedness and Biosecurity Policy Program at Texas A&M University.

The Tier One Program is designed to develop high-impact learning experiences that cut across disciplines and allow undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity for interdisciplinary collaboration and participation in experiential, transformational learning courses.

The Pandemic Program is being developed through leadership by Andrew Natsios from the Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs at the Bush School of Government & Public Service. Others also involved with the program include Gerry Parker, Associate Director of One Health at the College of Veterinary Medicine and the Director of the Pandemic Preparedness and Biosecurity Policy Program, Glenn Laine from the College of Veterinary Medicine, Leslie Ruyle and Christine Crudo Blackburn from the Scowcroft Institute, Melissa Berquist from the Institute for Infectious Animal Diseases, Tammi Krecek from the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, and Brian Colwell from the School for Public Health.

This program will incorporate two existing courses and create three additional courses. The two existing courses, “Infectious Disease in the Developing World” taught by Christine Crudo Blackburn, and “Bioterrorism” co-taught by Christine Crudo Blackburn and Gerry Parker, are currently offered at The Bush School. The first new course, which was taught during the spring 2019 semester, is titled “Science and Policy” and was be taught by Christine Crudo Blackburn. This course will address some of the most pressing infectious disease issues and will help students understand the role of science in policy. Additionally, it teaches them how to communicate science throughout the policy making process. The inaugural course was made up of students from The Bush School and the departments of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural Sciences, Biochemistry/Biophysics, and Industrial and Systems Engineering.

The second course, led by the Scowcroft Institute in collaboration with the Institute for Infectious Animal Diseases and Texas A&M Engineering Extension (TEEX), is be a half day simulation of pandemic response which will change yearly. Students present the results of the simulation at the Scowcroft Institute’s Annual Pandemic Policy Summit and publish their findings in a white paper. The first simulation white paper will be release in May of 2019.

Lastly, the third new course in the Pandemic Preparedness and Biosecurity Policy Program is “Outbreak: A One Health Field Investigation.” This course is open to graduate students across Texas A&M University, students at the University Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), and students at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRVG). Medical, nursing, public health, and veterinary, as well as allied life science, policy and other graduate programs. Through this course, students have an opportunity participate in an emerging infectious disease outbreak scenario, with the disease spreading from animals to humans, involving near-real world experiential field learning opportunities at TAMU, UTRVG and UTMB.

The goals of the Pandemic Preparedness and Biosecurity Policy Program are to produce individuals who can communicate science effectively in the policy arena; who are comfortable working with individuals from other disciplines; who understand the complexities and challenges of preparing for, preventing, and controlling disease outbreaks; and who can teach future generations how to work within an interdisciplinary environment. The students will have the opportunity to have an impact on real-world agenda-setting and policy development.

If you would like more information about the program please contact Dr. Christine Crudo Blackburn at