The Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense received its largest grant to date from Open Philanthropy, the commission announced today.
The $2.62 million grant from Open Philanthropy is the commission’s fifth grant from the philanthropic group, which has provided a total of $7.31 million in grants to the Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense since 2015, the most recent being a $2.58 million grant in 2018.
“Open Philanthropy has been very generous in supporting our efforts to identify and work with the public and private sectors to strengthen our national biodefense,” said former Gov. Tom Ridge, a co-chairman of the Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense. “We thank Open Philanthropy for standing with us in our mission to defend America against the biological threats that threaten our nation today.”
The commission — formerly known as the Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense — in 2015 issued recommendations in its report, A National Blueprint for Biodefense: Leadership and Major Reform Needed to Optimize Efforts, which helped the White House lay a foundation for its 2018 National Biodefense Strategy, which is currently the framework for the Trump administration’s response to the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic.
On Friday, the pandemic forced President Donald Trump to declare a national emergency to help combat it, freeing up billions of dollars to fund the nation’s response and help states, small businesses, and individuals while allowing for a broader federal role in coordination.
The Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense’s grant “comes in the midst of our national response to novel coronavirus and other highly pathogenic diseases, the development of biological weapons by other nation-states, and the ongoing threat of bioterrorism,” said Ridge, who also served as the first U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security.
The grant will help the commission continue to assess biodefense challenges and to urge reform, said former U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman, also co-chairman of the Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense.
“The support we receive today from Open Philanthropy is absolutely critical in our ability to continue working with Congress and the administration to implement our recommendations,” Lieberman said. “The biological threats to our nation remain all too real.”
Open Philanthropy, made possible by the charitable giving of Dustin Moskovitz, the cofounder of Facebook, and his wife, Cari Tuna, a former Wall Street Journal reporter, works to identify outstanding opportunities, makes grants, follows the results, and then transparently publishes its findings so that anyone may build upon them.
In addition to biosecurity and pandemic preparedness, the philanthropy funds a wide array of causes, organizations, and projects, such as those connected to alleviating global poverty, improving the welfare of farm animals, conducting geoengineering research, and reforming the U.S. criminal justice system, among many other problems it considers neglected.
“We thank Open Philanthropy for their generosity and vision,” said Lieberman.
The Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense issued a statement on March 13, noting that the commission is paying close attention to the ability of the U.S. biodefense enterprise to respond to COVID-19, especially through the lens of its National Blueprint for Biodefense.