In the wake Septempber 11th, letters containing anthrax spores were mailed to offices across Washington, including several Senate offices, killing five people, sickening others, and creating an atmosphere of fear and unease across the country every time someone opened a letter.
Arthur Friedlander, now Senior scientist at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, is the government’s leading authority on responding to biochemical threats, especially those involving anthrax. His team’s research on plague and biochemical response was — and is — the foundation for dealing with these threats. He was honored earlier this year for his ongoing work with a Service to America Medal for his work in the field of Homeland Security. He spoke with Christopher Dorobek of the DorobekINSIDER to shed some more light on this little known aspect of government.
He explains that anthrax is a chemical spore that has reached the public eye due to concerns about the potential to use it as a chemical weapon. When letters started showing up in Washington at the beginning of the last decade, much research had already been done by the military concerning how to deal with anthrax exposure. Friedlander and his team used that prior research and began managing the government’s response:
Arthur Friedlander 1 by cdorobek
The USAMRIID was the team heading up that planning of the government’s response to a very publicized threat, yet many people have never heard of the Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases. But Friedlander has been at this work for a long time and his research has been aided by a wide swath of people over the years. Even if he doesn’t work for a widely known agency, he is proud of the important role his agency plays in serving not only the people of the United States, but the entire world, in protecting the globe from widespread disease.
There is a large aspect of public service to Friedlander’s scientific research and emergency preparation. One of his main goals is to be ready for unforeseen things; he is continually looking for better ways to improve the readiness of the United States for potentially catastrophic situations. He rightly points out that the federal government is the only organization with the size and knowledge base to be responsible for this kind of global preparation role. “There is no market for a plague vaccine,” Friedlander says. He explains that there is no pharmaceutical company that could make money off off an anthrax vaccine. It’s public service at its best, because if something does go wrong, the government will be ready to respond.
Arthur Friedlander 2 by cdorobek
To listen to Arthur Friedlander’s full interview you can catch the entire radio show at GovLoop Insights or you can subscribe to our iTunes channel.
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