Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

Venter Calls For Pathogen Genome Project To Prepare For Biological Terrorist Attacks


ANAHEIM, Calif.--Bioterrorism could be the next frontier for the application of bioinformatics tools. Speaking at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science here late last month, Craig Venter, founder of Celera Genomics and the Institute for Genomic Research in Rockville, Md., called for genetic maps to be made of all pathogens that could be used as biological weapons. A genomic database of pathogens such as anthrax and bubonic plague could be used to defend the US against terrorist attacks, he contended.

Venter, who served as an advisor to President Clinton on the risks of biological weapons, has suggested that the government undertake a bioterrorism genome project in the same manner as the Human Genome Project. Possessing the genetic code of every pathogen and rapid detection methods "would act as a deterrent," he said.

Frank Young, a former US Food and Drug Administration researcher, agreed. Knowing the genome of every pathogen and potential bioterrorism agent would allow early detection of a biological attack, he said. "It will tip the balance in favor of defense over offense. The consequences are so high that for a nation not to be prepared is unthinkable."

Last month, the Clinton administration asked Congress to approve $206 million to fund research into vaccine development, detection and diagnostic methods, and decontamination procedures that would prepare the US against biological or chemical attack.

Filed under

The Scan

White-Tailed Deer Harbor SARS-CoV-2 Variants No Longer Infecting Humans, Study Finds

A new study in PNAS has found that white-tailed deer could act as a reservoir of SARS-CoV-2 variants no longer found among humans.

Study Points to Benefits of Local Consolidative Therapy, Targeted Treatments in Cancer Care

In JCO Precision Oncology, researchers report that local consolidative therapy combined with molecularly targeted treatments could improve survival for some lung cancer patients.

Genetic Variants That Lower LDL Cholesterol Linked to Reduced Heart Disease Risk

Rare variants in two genes that lower LDL cholesterol are also associated with a decreased risk of coronary heart disease, according to a new JAMA Cardiology study.

Study Links Evolution of Longevity, Social Organization in Mammals

With the help of comparative phylogenetics and transcriptomics, researchers in Nature Communications see ties between lifespan and social organization in mammals.