Dr. Asha M. George is a public health and security expert with more than three decades of work in her field. Since 2018, she has been the executive director of the Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense, previously known as the Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense. As executive director, Dr. George is responsible for overseeing the Apollo program for biodefense and its staff, in addition to analyzing national risk-preparedness measures and mitigation protocols for biological weapons events, pandemics, and other biological outbreaks. Dr. George holds a Bachelor of Arts in natural sciences from Johns Hopkins University and earned her Master of Science in public health, with a focus on parasitology and laboratory practice, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill the following year. She has continued her professional development throughout her career and attended the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa in the 1990s, earning a Doctor of Public Health in 1997.
Dr. George began her career as a laboratory technician at the George Washington University and joined the United States Army as a deputy intelligence officer in 1989. She served in the Army until 1992, rising to become the security and intelligence officer for Battalion S-2, a platoon leader, and a company executive officer. During her service, Dr. George was deployed to serve as a part of Operation Desert Storm, where her intelligence work and public health background helped influence her battalion’s response to the possible presence of anthrax in missiles present in Iraqi military camps. Realizing that the Army separated medical intelligence from other forms of intelligence work, she developed an interest in combining her areas of expertise to better serve the United States and the global intelligence community. As someone with both military leadership and public health and policy experience, Dr. George has dedicated her civilian career to roles focused on biodefense and homeland security.
From 1996 until 1997, Dr. George was a program analyst for the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health. She became the director of the National Coalition for Adult Immunization, a project of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, in 1998, and joined the Association of Public Health Laboratories in 1999 as director of emergency preparedness and response. Dr. George remained with the Association of Public Health Laboratories until 2001, when she was named a senior program officer for the Nuclear Threat Initiative’s biological programs division, a role she would hold for the next two years. She briefly served as the homeland security division manager and managing director for Analytic Services, Inc., and became the director of public health security at DFI International, a Washington-based consultancy, in 2005.
Dr. George entered the public policy sphere in 2007 as a senior professional staff member for the United States House of Representatives’ House Homeland Security Committee, and in 2010 she was named staff director for intelligence for the information sharing and terrorism risk assessment subcommittee. For the next four years, she was the analytic director of CENTRA Technology, Inc., departing in 2015 to become the principal of Strategic Operational Solutions, Inc. Dr. George has been involved with the Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense since 2014, serving as co-director before assuming her current role in 2018.
An innovator in biodefense policy, Dr. George is responsible for developing portions of the National Defense Authorization Act, including the creation of a centralized national biodefense strategy and the separation of biodefense policy from general national defense protocols. During her time with the Association of Public Health Laboratories, she worked to establish the Laboratory Response Network, a confederation of public health testing laboratories across the country working together to test and receive FBI specimens. The Laboratory Response Network was responsible for conducting the majority of anthrax testing in the United States and continues to play a major role in outbreak testing and notification.
Dr. George has written extensively for journals and professional publications including Frontiers in Biotechnology, the Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, and Biodefense Quarterly, and has been an invited speaker at numerous conferences and symposia. In recognition of her career accomplishments, she has been presented with awards from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security, and is heavily decorated for her Army service, including two National Defense Service Medals and a Bronze Service Star. Dr. George credits her success to tenacity, hard work, and a commitment to change, and looks forward to continuing her career at the intersection of public health and public policy with a focus on pandemic containment and intentional biological weapons mitigation.