Stanford University begins fourth year of biological threat response class

The Stanford University School of Medicine recently began the fourth year of a course examining how to respond in the event of a biological attack.

Milana Trounce, a clinical associate professor of emergency medicine, teaches the course, called Biosecurity and Bioterrorism Response. More than 100 students have enrolled in this year's class, which features guest lecturers from Stanford and other think tank experts, biotech company representatives and public officials.

Trounce, who grew up in the Ukrainian city of Odessa during the Soviet era, said seeing former bioweapons research facilities in the Soviet Union as an adult helped to inform her opinions on controlling contagious pathogens.

"It blew my mind," Trounce said. "As a Soviet citizen, I had had no idea these facilities even existed. To come as a U.S. citizen and see these facilities where thousands of scientists had been working on the deadliest pathogens was unbelievable. Who knows what I didn't see?"

Trounce also said she would like to see a fraction of the funds spent on nuclear defense in the U.S. diverted to biological threat countermeasures, something that Stanford could help to lead the way on.

"Stanford's unique blend of expertise in medicine, business, and engineering, our public-policy program, and its location in the center of Silicon Valley make this the perfect place to get started," Trounce said.