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 implementation of recommendations contained in the commission’s National Blueprint for Biodefense, Apollo Program for Biodefense, and other reports, in addition to analyzing national biodefense measures and protocols for naturally occurring, accidentally released, and intentionally introduced biological events. Dr. George earned a Bachelor of Arts in natural sciences from Johns Hopkins University in 1987, and earned a 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 subsequently attended the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa, 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 U.S. Army as a military intelligence officer in 1989. She served in the Army until 1992, rising to become a battalion security and intelligence officer, a combat platoon leader, and a company executive officer. During her service, Dr. George deployed to Saudi Arabia and Iraq as a part of Operation Desert Storm, where her public health background helped her battalion’s response to the possible presence of anthrax in Iraqi SCUD missiles. 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 community. As someone with military leadership, public health, and policy experience, Dr. George has dedicated her civilian career to biodefense, homeland security, and national security.
Dr. George became the director of the National Coalition for Adult Immunization, at 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. She remained with the Association of Public Health Laboratories until 2001, when she was named a senior program officer for biological programs at the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a role she would hold for the next two years. Dr. George served as managing director of the ANSER Institute for Homeland Security and threats division manager of the Homeland Security Institute at 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 professional staff and then senior professional staff for the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Homeland Security, and in 2010, she was named staff director for its intelligence, information sharing, and terrorism risk assessment subcommittee. Thereafter, she was an analytic director at CENTRA Technology Inc., departing in 2015 to become a 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 as executive director.
An innovator in biodefense policy, Dr. George is responsible for educating Congress, including about 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 laboratories across the country working together to receive and test specimens from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and others. The Laboratory Response Network was responsible for conducting most of the anthrax testing in the United States in 2001 and continues to play a major role in outbreak testing and notification.
Dr. George has written 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, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Homeland Security, and received decorations for her Army service, including a National Defense Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, two Army Achievement Medals, Kuwait Liberation Medal, and Southwest Asia Service Medal with Bronze Service Star. Dr. George credits her success to tenacity, hard work, and commitment to change, and looks forward to continuing her policy career at the intersection of public health and national security with a focus on pandemic containment and biological weapons mitigation.