gms | German Medical Science

International Conference on SARS - one year after the (first) outbreak

08. - 11.05.2004, Lübeck

SARS: A case study for biodefense


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  • corresponding author presenting/speaker Gigi Kwik - Center for Biosecurity of UPMC (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center), Baltimore, MD

International Conference on SARS - one year after the (first) outbreak. Lübeck, 08.-11.05.2004. Düsseldorf, Köln: German Medical Science; 2004. Doc04sars7.02

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:

Published: May 26, 2004

© 2004 Kwik.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited.



Lessons learned from the global SARS experience should shape strategies for responding to future epidemics, whether an epidemic is natural or man-made. While the bioresearch response to SARS has been swift and effective, it has highlighted important differences between the normal pace and process of scientific research, and what is required in a time of crisis. These differences should be examined and discussed, to establish 'ground rules' and policies designed to ease the bioresearch response in future epidemics. From an analysis of SARS bioresearch events, as well as interviews, aspects that need to be considered include: mechanisms to garner financial support for researching an emerging crisis, rules for scientific collaboration including intellectual property concerns, ensuring that scientists are professionally rewarded for their participation in a crisis response, communicating scientific information when it is time-sensitive (peer-reviewed journals vs. CNN), and biosafety standards.

While there are many aspects of the SARS experience that are analogous to a hypothesized bioweapons attack (a 'new' virus, high mortality, global impact, and the destruction of economy and livelihood), there are several potential differences: in a bioweapons attack, there is the possibility of several outbreaks at once, with the potential involvement of different players, officials, and experts. The challenges for a bioresearch response in this scenario will be presented and discussed.