Pathogens, viruses and national security: how can we prepare for endgame viral events? Can Cyber play a part?

In this “Secure in Mind” podcast episode, we interview two special guests on how the worlds of immunology, research, pharmacy and national security intersect. How does technology play a part? Is a cyber attack on virus databases or weaponisation through manipulation possible?

12 Giu 2019

In this “Secure in Mind” podcast episode, we interview two special guests on how the worlds of immunology, research, pharmacy and national security intersect. Dr Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infection Diseases in the US, and my sister, Dr Melissa Kelly, Infectious Diseases Physician specialized in HIV.

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Complexities, mitigations and successes

Dr Fauci is the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infection Diseases (NIAID) that is an agency of the US Department of Health and Human Services. As said, Melissa Kelly, more than being my awesome sister, is also an incredibly talented Infectious Disease Physician specialised in HIV, so I invited her along to make sense of any answers where all I could respond with was “boh” (my Italian audience will understand this!).

Dr Fauci’s vast experience is incredible: he has personally advised six, count them, SIX, US Presidents since Reagan on research / preparation / budget and direction of a department that fundamentally predicts and prepares the US for the worst and constructs both its National and International health and safety interests accordingly. We discuss the evolution of the infection diseases, immunology and HIV and the impact that these transmittable diseases have on society. Nation states will be nation states, and stockpiling weapons of immunological destruction is an old game, so we touch on stockpiles of Soviet Anthrax, Smallpox, Botulism and more!

However, for all of the wonderful destruction that we humans can and do inflict upon ourselves, we are not even in the same ballpark as mother nature, and Dr Fauci mostly dismisses the prospect of a “humanity endgame” event being the result of a man-made pathogen.

Nature will find a way, and countries must navigate through the highly complex landscape of pharmaceutical incentives, international relations, security mitigations, health education and more to ensure we are in the strongest position possible before the next inevitable pandemic hits.

Dr Fauci’s experience over the last 4 decades is formidable and both my sister and I truly appreciated spending time with one of the greats in the field. It was a pleasure to have my sister join me as well to make up for my zero medical knowledge! She is travelling the world with organisations like the World Health Organisation continuing Dr Fauci’s fights against microbial nasties.

A final note: I have the utmost admiration and respect for people like Dr Fauci and my sister, Dr Mel; they are on the frontlines, sometimes facing very dark days filled with death and pain but always fighting the good fight.

Info on our guest here.

Policy-wise health and hygiene guidelines: a global perspective

We are passionate about international policy, and to contextualise this, we discussed the state of the art of cross-border cooperation and integration of different entities – researchers, academics, practitioners, institutions, clinics – for risk mitigation strategies and pre-clinical trials.

Particularly enriching was the discussion on the role of national and global institutions, such as the US National Institute of Standards and Technology, the WHO and the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in setting best practices and health guidelines.

Particularly, what kind of pressures are successful on different nation states’ governments to foster their alignment with globally recognised best practices? You’ll have to listen to find out!

The Secure in Mind Project

Our mission is to greatly increase and encourage community discussion about technological and ethical issues that have done, are and will impact society on a global scale.

There is a longstanding and distinct disconnect between the way information is packaged and presented to the public and the effectiveness of this presentation in terms of generating informed, considered debate.

If we can take complex, important topics and present them, as best we can, in a manner that can interests people from outside the speciality, then we have surpassed our expectations.

Nick Kelly Bio

Nick is someone who, in many senses, is just like you: a human being trying to make sense of this existence of ours as we hurtle around a ball of gas in a sea of infinite eternity. More relevant though are his vacillations in the world amongst diverse countries and environments, collaborating, negotiating, elaborating and celebrating with fascinating people from all walks of life including politics, technology, activism, military and intelligence the world over.

He brings this unique breadth of perspective to the table and has a dogged interest in pursuing the human story behind the title or policy, appreciating the fact that underneath all of our bravado, political correctness and dichotomous states of creation and destruction, we are, after all, merely mortals trying to make the best of it.


The production cost of this episode of ‘Secure in Mind’ was supported by aizoOn Technology Consulting.

aizoOn is a global technology consulting company focused on innovation. Since the digital economy requires new visions, technologies and organisational models, we have taken the eco-system approach. Through this attitude, innovation happens through a co-creation process involving government agencies, individuals, public and private entities.

What this boils down to is that we use data and brains to drastically increase efficiencies, reduce waste, consolidate technology security and cyber postures and train the next generation of the top tech force.

If you want to passively and effectively identify hackers in your network, require project management on your space programme or even need a chemical scientist to solve a supply chain issue in your bottling plant, give us a call!