In-Q-Tel and the CIA


This interview took place in 2020.

It remains extremely relevant today.

Dr. Tara O’Toole:

Dr. Tara O’Toole is an Executive Vice President and Senior Fellow at In-Q-Tel, which is a private, non-profit strategic investment firm that links the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and other components of the US Intelligence Community with venture-backed start-up firms on the leading edge of technological innovation.

Dr. O’Toole is leading a strategic In-Q-Tel initiative called B.Next to explore opportunities and risks likely to arise in the next decade as a result of advances in the biological sciences and biotechnologies, with a particular focus on detection of, and defense, against biological attacks.

Prior to joining In-Q-Tel, Dr. O’Toole served as Under Secretary for the Science and Technology Directorate at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), where she was responsible for scientific and technological research designed to provide new security and resilience innovations.

Prior to her work at the DHS, she was the CEO and Director of the Center for Biosecurity at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), an independent organisation dedicated to improving the country’s resilience to major biological threats.

A Career in Biosecurity and Biodefense:

Dr. O’Toole is internationally known for her work on biosecurity as well as on health and safety issues related to the US nuclear weapons complex, as well as her disaster response exercises, where she was a principal author and producer of Dark Winterand Atlantic Storm, both of which simulated a covert outbreak of smallpox in the United States.

Dr. O’Toole has a bachelor’s degree from Vassar College, an MD from George Washington University, and a master’s of public health degree from Johns Hopkins University. She completed internal medicine residency training at Yale University and a fellowship in occupational and environmental medicine at Johns Hopkins University.

On this episode we will hear from Dr. O’Toole:

How she developed an interest in medicine, public health, and in the topics of biodefense and biosecurity. About DHS and the CIA’s role in the management of epidemics, outbreaks, and biological weapons’ defense. The B.Next Initiative and the Biodefense Technology Architecture at In-Q-Tel. Her views on topics including: drug repurposing, bio-hacking / “do-it-yourself” biology, the approval of new drugs when human efficacy studies are not ethical or feasible (to reduce or prevent the toxicity of chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear substances). About post-Cold War biodefense concerns.

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