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A cross-divisional department spanning

Research Areas

Biosecurity and Emerging Threats


Our research aims to advance science, policy and practice in addressing a range of emerging threats including the global rise of emerging infectious diseases with pandemic potential; major natural or technological disasters; and intentional use of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear materials as weapons. We work toward building sustainable public health and healthcare systems that can reduce the physical, mental, and societal impacts of these threats and hazards.

Research Highlights

COPEWELL: A Conceptual Framework and System Dynamics Model for Predicting Community Functioning and Resilience After Disasters

Policy-makers and practitioners have a need to assess community resilience in disasters. Prior efforts conflated resilience with community functioning, combined resistance and recovery (the components of resilience), and relied on a static model for what is inherently a dynamic process. We sought to develop linked conceptual and computational models of community functioning and resilience after a disaster. We developed a system dynamics computational model that predicts community functioning after a disaster. The computational model outputted the time course of community functioning before, during, and after a disaster, which was used to calculate resistance, recovery, and resilience for all US counties.

Global Catastrophic Biological Risks: Toward a Working Definition

The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security is working to analyze and deepen scientific dialogue regarding potential global catastrophic biological risks (GCBRs), in a continuation of its mission to reduce the consequences of epidemics and disasters. Because GCBRs constitute an emerging policy concern and area of practice, we have developed a framework to guide our work. We invited experts from a variety of disciplines to engage with our underlying concepts and assumptions to refine collective thinking on GCBRs and thus advance protections against them.

Perceived Facilitators and Barriers to Local Health Department Workers' Participation in Infectious Disease Emergency Responses

Local health departments play a key role in emergency preparedness and respond to a wide range of threats including infectious diseases such as seasonal influenza, tuberculosis, H1N1, Ebola virus disease, and Zika virus disease. To successfully respond to an infectious disease outbreak, local health departments depend upon the participation of their workforce; yet, studies indicate that sizable numbers of workers would not participate in such a response. This study aims to understand why local health department workers are willing, or not willing, to report to work during an infectious disease response.

Scarce Resource Allocation During Disasters: A Mixed Method Community Engagement Study

During a catastrophe, health-care providers may face difficult questions regarding who will receive limited life-saving resources. The ethical principles that should guide decision-making have been considered by expert panels but have not been well explored with the public or front-line clinicians. The objective of this study was to characterize the public’s values regarding how scarce mechanical ventilators should be allocated during an influenza pandemic, with the ultimate goal of informing a statewide scare resource allocation framework.

Associated Faculty

Dan Barnett, MD

Barnett's research interests include best practice models to enhance all-hazards public health emergency readiness and response. Specific areas of focus include disaster response surge capacity; design and evaluation of preparedness curricula for public health workers; mental health aspects of public health emergency response; public health readiness exercises; and organizational culture change issues facing health departments in building a ready public health workforce.


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Gigi Gronvall, PhD

Gronvall’s work addresses the role of scientists in health security—how they can contribute to an effective technical response against a biological weapon or a natural epidemic. She is particularly interested in developing policies that will boost the safety and security of biological science activities while allowing beneficial research to flourish.


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Christopher Hurtado, MHS

Christopher's primary research interests include pathogen-host interactions, cell signaling, tumor microenvironment, use of nanomedicine for targeted drug delivery, pandemic and emerging infectious disease, public health preparedness and policy, and international collaboration for responses to biosecurity threats.


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Thomas V. Inglesby, MD

Inglesby is the Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. His work is internationally recognized in the fields of public health preparedness, pandemic and emerging infectious disease, and prevention of and response to biological threats.


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Jonathan Links, PhD

Links directs the Johns Hopkins Center for Public Health Preparedness. His research interests include public health preparedness and response for all hazards, ionizing radiation, biomarkers, mathematical modeling, and non-invasive medical imaging.


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Diane Meyer, RN, MPH

Meyer's primary research interests include emerging infectious diseases, biosecurity and biodefense, and public health policy and preparedness.


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Roni Neff, PhD*

Neff's work focuses on food system sustainability and resilience. She is engaged in multiple research projects on the issue of wasted food. Other topics of interest include farm policy, climate change and food system resilience, food system worker health, meat consumption, and framing connections between food systems and public health. Her three primary focuses are wasted food, meat consumption and climate change, and urban food system resilience.


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Jennifer Nuzzo, DrPH, SM

Nuzzo's work focuses on international and domestic biosurveillance, infectious disease diagnostics, and disease mitigation strategies. She also has worked on issues related to the Affordable Care Act, tuberculosis control, foodborne outbreaks, and water security.


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Sanjana Ravi, MPH

Sanjana's primary research interests include global health systems, infectious disease emergencies, responses to humanitarian crises, and the intersections between health, security, and human rights.


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Caitlin Rivers, PhD

Rivers’ area of expertise is on improving public health preparedness and response through computational epidemiology, outbreak science, open data, and biosecurity.


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Monica Schoch-Spana

Schoch-Spana's areas of expertise include community resilience to disaster, public engagement in policymaking, crisis and risk communication, and public health emergency preparedness.


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Brian Schwartz, MD*

A large part of Schwartz's research applies the methods of occupational, environmental, and molecular epidemiology to studying the health effects of chemicals. Health effects of interest include those in the central nervous (e.g., cognitive function, brain structure), peripheral nervous, cardiovascular, and renal systems. His research has focused on the health effects of metals (e.g., organic lead, inorganic lead, mercury, cadmium) and various organic compounds (e.g., polychlorinated biphenyls, hydrocarbon solvents).


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Matthew Shearer, MPH

Matthew's primary research interests include infectious disease outbreak and bioterrorism response. He is also interested in the use of stochastic simulations to model the impact of preparation and response policy on public health emergencies.


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Michael Snyder, MALD

Michael's primary research interests include global health governance, international health cooperation for biosecurity threats, and responses to infectious disease emergencies and humanitarian crises.


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Eric Toner, MD

Toner is an internist and emergency physician. His primary areas of interest are healthcare preparedness for catastrophic events, pandemic influenza, and medical response to bioterrorism.


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Crystal Watson, DrPH

Watson's policy research focuses on public health risk assessment, crisis and risk-based decision making during contamination emergencies, public health and medical preparedness and response, biodefense, and emerging infectious diseases. She also conducts research on the funding and management of biodefense and health security in the US federal government.


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Matthew Watson, MPH

Matthew's primary research interests include the health sector response to high-impact epidemics and other disasters, public health preparedness and policy, emergency medicine, infectious disease epidemiology, and biosurveillance.


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Tara Kirk Sell, PhD, MA

Dr. Sell’s work focuses on improving public health policy and practice in order to reduce the health impacts of disasters and terrorism. She works on qualitative and quantitative research analyses, development of strategy and policy recommendations, convening of working groups and conferences, and the publication of scientific articles. Her primary research interests include biosecurity and biodefense, public health preparedness, emerging infectious disease, federal funding and budgeting, and nuclear preparedness policy and practice.


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*Denotes faculty who are accepting PhD students.