Because of Colorado State's swift reaction to forming a response team to the COVID-19 outbreak in spring 2020, CSU has just received a $2 million grant from the Anschutz Foundation to fund development and research to prevent future pandemics. The grant's purpose is to help fund further work to develop solutions to build resilience, flexibility, and ability to stop the transmission of diseased now and in the future.

The grant will be funded over two years and will be used to fund new research teams. One focus of the gift is to fund one of the first cyber biosecurity programs to protect the country's health data. According to the official release from Colorado State, the goal is to build a more diverse workforce in the future by increasing participation from first generation students attending CSU.

CSU President Joyce McConnell commented of the confidence and reassurance this grant has given in regards to the measures CSU has already taken in pandemic response and preparedness, saying:

We are so thankful for this gift because it will advance our efforts in this area on several fronts, and it will be transformational in our ability to meet future public health challenges.

One factor that drew the Anschutz Foundation to offer this grant to CSU was Colorado State's preexisting focus on the One Health model. The One Health model recognizes the importance of interconnectedness of animals, humans, and environment.

The president of the Anschutz Foundation, Christian Anschutz, says a multi-disciplined approach is key to stopping a future pandemic. He says that CSU is a promising example of an institution that has the right dedication and approach.

Areas of focus for the grant:

  • Enhanced surveillance to catch the start of any future infectious disease threats
  • Agile production and distribution of pandemic countermeasures (i.e. vaccines)
  • Social and culture practices that could affect the response of society to another outbreak
  • Protection of critical health information from hackers

Candace Mathiason, an associate professor in CSU's Department of Microbiology, was one of the trailblazers who helped assemble Colorado State's COVID-19 response team in spring 2020. She believes this grant is an investment that will help sustain what CSU has put in place and developed already, and she spoke further on that idea, saying:

The Anschutz Foundation investment will help sustain what has been built, placing CSU and Colorado - once again - at the forefront of the next health crisis, the next pandemic, should it arise.

Along with the other aforementioned areas of focus and improvement, CSU also aims to develop better communication methods wit the public in the event of another health crisis. The grant agreement also calls for the university to continue to collaborate with partners, including University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and the Colorado School of Public Health.

Now, the importance of the focus of cyber biosecurity is in place because there have been several recent incidents, including JBS in Colorado. Hackers have been able to change DNA sequencing from research efforts, inhibiting production and efficiency of vaccine production and other recovery support for infectious diseases.

Colorado State will continue to work with other establishments with similar goals to ensure training and improvement in the field for cyber biosecurity and health crisis preparedness.

 

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