CINCINNATI, Ohio – The Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s (DTRA) hosted more than 1,100 attendees at the 2019 Chemical and Biological Defense Science the Technology (CBD S&T) Conference in Cincinnati Nov. 18-21.

DTRA Research and Developments’ Chemical and Biological (RDCB) Technologies department organized the conference, which spurred new collaborations and strategic partnerships to thwart the dangers posed by chemical and biological threats.

“We need you to help us broaden our idea pool and seek out solutions to the known and unknown threats to our safety,” said Dr. Ronald Hann, Chemical and Biological Technologies Department director. “I recall during the 2011 CBD S&T conference, an attending group of researchers held a series of conversations around using monoclonal antibodies to counter the Ebola virus. Despite opposition from the field, we funded the research and not long afterwards, monoclonal antibody therapeutics proved vital in responding to the Ebola outbreak.”

Hann’s address focused on the power of ideas associated with disruptive technologies, especially as it pertains to chemical and biological threats. He noted that these ideas and technologies can be so transformative that they can render old ways of operating obsolete. The goal, he said, is to uncover ideas that impact an adversaries’ networks, compromising and weakening their operations, and ultimately denying them the ability to develop or use weaponry against the warfighter and civilian populations.

“We aren’t just looking for a discrete technological fix to counter a singular threat,” Hann said. “We are looking for ideas that enable us to fundamentally disrupt the landscape of chemical and biological threats…let’s put the bad guys out of business—that’s the definition of disruption.”

DTRA’s strategic partnerships, including those with the Food and Drug Administration, National Institutes of Health and the greater research community, have resulted in products such as wearable technologies, human organ-on-a-chip and DNA-based vaccines.

According to Carl Brown, DTRA RDCB Strategic Communications and Outreach program manager, this conference allowed for in-depth discussions that could result in collaboration on more than 450 oral presentations and posters. These efforts describe dynamic developments and the art of the possible in medical and physical sciences for chemical and biological defense.

The CBD S&T conference also included a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) day, hosting more than 35 high school-aged students from the local school district. Students received an inspirational welcome by DTRA leadership and participated in STEM-related hands-on activities.

As the week-long event came to close, Hann emphasized how a conversation on a single idea has the power to literally change the world for good, and to alter the course of history.

“We need to remain focused on using the power of science to safeguard our warfighters and national security through technological superiority, by taking revolutionary big steps in science, not evolutionary small steps…I challenge you to make these conversations happen here, exchange your ideas, share your ideas.”