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Opening Remarks

Biodefense Summit Transcript

Remarks by Kelvin Droegemeier, Director, Office of Science and Technology Policy, Excecutive Office of the President

>> CICELY WATERS: Thank you very much, Dr. Dzau. I now welcome Dr. Kevin Droegemeier, director Office of Science and Technology Policy, Executive Office of the President. Dr. Droegemeier?


>> KELVIN DROEGEMEIER: Thank you so much. Good morning, everyone. It's great to have you all here. Um, thank you so much for that introduction. Victor, it's great to see you, and Secretary Azar and Dr. Kadlec, it's a privilege to be here with all of you. Um, you know, you are the best minds in the country, um, and I think this multi sector activity, bringing together academia, private sector, um, our government entities, and maybe even some folks from non profit found​ations, that's really what makes our research enterprise so incredibly powerful, so incredibly strong, underpinned with American values, and tackling the kind of challenges that we're going to be talking about in this meeting is really extraordinarily and, I think, really takes all of what we have as a nation to bring to bear on, um, so, I really do appreciate you being here to talk, it really is the very first meeting on the, um, on the national biodefense strategy. Um, as director of OSTP, I have a very simple, but very wonderful job, and that is to make sure that America's research and technology and education enterprise leads the world. Um, it's a very, very important charge, something I take very seriously, and as you all well know, biological threats are among the most serious and complicated threats that our nation faces, and the implications are really extraordinary.

Spending public health, national security, and also the economy, and to lead the world, we obviously have to tackle these challenges head on, and the fact that you're here today to have this very important conversation, not just to talk about it, but to take action on it, really, for me, as a scientist, is extremely important, and I'm very warmed by that, so I want to thank all of you for taking the time to do this. You could be anywhere, doing anything, right now, but you've chosen to be here, to invest your time in this really important activity, so thank you for that. Um, the response to the next biological accident or threat or nationally occurring outbreak is going to require really important unique solutions that are designed by academic researchers and private industry, federal government, non profits, this multi sector partnership that I mentioned is so important, and it's the collaborative spirit across this R & D ecosystem that is really important in tackling challenges of this magnitude, and it'll really help, um, keep us as global leaders in this important challenge. Um, in addition to strengthening the R & D ecosystem, the innovation that we're going to be talking about will create meaningful solutions to biodefense threats. It can actually be deployed on the front lines to thwart some of the challenges we face here. The best defense against potential biological threats is to drive technological advancements that allow us to identify, respond, recover faster, with greater specificity than ever before.

Now, as a guy who comes from Oklahoma, and we play a lot of football down there, I can tell you that you don't win games based on defense, you have to have a strong offense, and, so, even though we talk about biodefense, I think what we're really talking about is getting our house in order so that we can thwart the defense of activities with a strong offense. So, really, what you're doing is you're looking to play a strong offensive game, and I think that's really extraordinary. Um, so, with all that in mind, I think you all know that President Trump prioritized biodefense in releasing the national biodefense strategy last September, and it represents, really, the first coordinated effort to orchestrate the full range of all of our biodefense activities, carried out across the entire country, all the sectors we've talked about, to protect the American people from all bio threats, and that's really what this summit is about today, and it's what, it demonstrates that you all are tackling that problem. We are now assessing the U.S. biodefense enterprise to identify gaps in both our policy and our capabilities. We want to describe and understand key challenges to the implementation of this strategy. We also want to inform joint policy guidance and priority areas of biodefense. You know, policy is so terribly important that we have to really make sure that we're moving any barriers that stand in our way to moving forward in a thoughtful way, in a way that really achieves the goals that we have outlined here. This will allow us to, all these policy decisions will allow us to explore how existing U.S. government programs and combining with the resources of academia and the private sector, non profits, can all be applied to support the strategy that has been outlined in the document that the President brought forward.

So, as we move now to fully implement the goals and objectives in the national biodefense strategy, we really want to join hands, we want to strive together to strengthen our nation's leadership in the global biodefense enterprise. We want to leverage the collective strength that we all have, all the stakeholders through partnerships, and that's something you'll hear me talk a lot about at OSTP, is the multi sector partnerships. It's not just the government, just the academy, just the private sector, just the non profits, but when you join forces, you bring those things together, no other nation on Earth can do that the way that we can, underpinned with the values that we hold so dear, to collaborate in an open research enterprise that seeks to achieve really big, bold goals. So, we want to ensure that we are promoting and maintaining this research environment that is so extraordinary and has been so important for American leadership since World War II, to really not only maintain it, but to take it to the next level. So, your efforts today really are laying the foundation for a safer, healthier future for all Americans, and through mechanisms, such as the interagency body, the national science technology council, which I have the privilege to chair, which is an interagency council, intergovernmental council that brings together not only the government stakeholders, but also involves, um, other sectors, bringing them to the table, um, I look forward, as a director of OSTP and all folks in my organization, in working with you as full fledge partners to advance our nation's agenda in biodefense. So, again, thank you so much for all that you're doing. We stand ready as a full fledge partner to help you, if there are any challenges you face, any ways that OSTP can be helpful, please reach out to me, contact me, and come to the White House, and we'll certainly chat, and we want to be as helpful as we possibly can. So, thank you. Godspeed, as you do this important work, and we're ready to help however we can. Good morning, and thank you very much.