The concept of a “nuclear winter” has long been understood, but in uncharted new scientific territory in the modern world, there is little awareness of the risk of a “biological winter”, how this risk should be addressed, and what new systems, legislation and approaches are needed to mitigate unprecedented challenges to biosecurity.

This course presents an innovative new approach to critically evaluating risks and responses to biosecurity threats to human health in the modern age. Our systems, thinking, training, legislation and policies have lagged far behind momentous changes in science, leaving us vulnerable to population-level harm from bioterrorism. Synthetic viruses and genetic engineering of pathogens are a reality, with a rapid acceleration of dual-use research of concern (DURC), which is research intended for good which may also be used to cause harm to humans. The public availability of methods for DURC genetic engineering, risks of laboratory accidents, coupled with the insider threat, poses an unprecedented risk for global biosecurity.

This course covers bioterrorism past, present and future; case studies in risk analysis, risk mitigation, prevention and response; distinguishing natural from unnatural epidemics; surveillance tools, rapid intelligence and analysis methods; International health regulations, governance, insider threat and ethical frameworks; and response (decontamination and protection of responders).

Hear from expert international speakers from the FBI, NSW Police, Australian Army, Defence Science and Technology Group and University of Texas Medical Branch Police Department, along with UNSW faculty.  You will learn about key aspects of bioterrorism recognition, response and mitigation.

Mode of study

External (distance) and internal (face-to-face) classes on campus

Key contact

A/Prof David J Heslop
Course Convenor
+61 (2) 9385 3499


Who should do this course?

This course is designed for stakeholders from any sector involved in BT response, who wish to gain a better understanding of bioterrorism in the modern age, and to gain insight into diverse perspectives into prevention, mitigation and response. Students will have an intensive, interactive experience, which will include exposure to the perspectives of different sectors in biosecurity.

Course outcomes

  • This course will provide a grounding in human health aspects of bioterrorism and response, for first-responders, analysts or policymakers from health, emergency management, law enforcement, military or other relevant backgrounds. This course will not only teach the latest concepts in bioterrorism, but will enhance the ability of participants to engage more effectively with other sectors in emergency response.
  • An overview of bioterrorism past, present and future scenarios will be covered.
  • Case studies in risk analysis, risk mitigation, prevention and response will be studied. These will cover engineered transmissible H5N1 avian influenza; distinguishing natural from unnatural epidemics, surveillance tools, rapid intelligence and analysis methods.
  • International health regulations, governance of DURC, insider threat and ethical frameworks will be examined.
  • Models for cross-sectoral collaboration and communication will also be explored.
  • Preparation of first line responders to biohazards will be covered, including personal protective equipment, decontamination, epidemic control measures, post-exposure prophylaxis and vaccines for biosecurity.
  • For those interested in operational expertise in identifying bioterrorism, they should also do Infectious Diseases Intelligence, designed as a companion course to this course.

Learning & teaching

Our course is presented in five modules, with a mini movie in five episodes as the trigger for each module. We offer interactive, fully online participation or a face-to-face experience – you choose! See the trailer and teaser for the movie. 

For busy professionals with diverse needs, we provide you the flexibility to do this intensive course in Sydney in face-to-face workshop mode or as a fully online intensive. We ensure an equivalent interactive, intensive experience regardless of which mode of delivery you choose. Our experienced tutors will be available to discuss problems online or face-to-face in the classroom. Participants who do not have a background in health will be provided with online pre-course material covering the basics of public health, infectious diseases and epidemiology. This will need to be completed before doing the intensive workshop.

UNSW Faculty

Professor Raina MacIntyre

NHMRC Principal Research Fellow and Professor of Biosecurity

Professor Raina MacIntyre is NHMRC Principal Research Fellow and Professor of Global Biosecurity. She heads the Biosecurity Program at the Kirby Institute, which conducts research in epidemiology, vaccinology, bioterrorism prevention, mathematical modelling, genetic epidemiology, public health and clinical trials in infectious diseases. Prof MacIntyre is an international leader in emerging infections and runs a highly strategic research program spanning epidemiology, vaccinology, mathematical modelling, public health and clinical trials in infectious diseases. She is best known for research in the transmission dynamics and prevention of infectious diseases, particularly respiratory pathogens such as influenza. She has led the largest body of research internationally on face masks and respirators in health care workers. She has done research on using risk-analysis methods for bioterrorism, and for analysing emerging infectious diseases outbreaks such as MERS-CoV.  She is a leader in adult vaccination with a focus on the elderly. She also has an interest in the ethics of medicine, and specifically in dual-use research of concern.  She leads a NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence immunisation for high risk populations and won the 2014 PHAA National Immunisation Award. Among many other awards, she has won the Sir Henry Wellcome Medal and Prize for work on risk prioritization in bioterrorism. Prof MacIntyre has over 230 publications in peer-reviewed journals. Her research is underpinned by extensive field outbreak investigation experience. Her in-depth understanding of the science of outbreak investigation draws from this experience combined with her academic training through a Masters and PhD in Epidemiology. Her passion for field epidemiology led her to co-found the ARM network for Australian outbreak response.

Dr David Muscatello

Senior Lecturer, School of Population Health

Dr David Muscatello is a Senior Lecturer at the School. He has a PhD in the epidemiology of influenza. He also has many years experience in government as an epidemiologist specialising in acute disease surveillance using administrative databases, public health intelligence and biostatistics including time series analysis. He played a major surveillance role in the New South Wales government response to pandemic influenza in 2009 and has served on the Australian National Influenza Surveillance Committee. David is also a graduate of the New South Wales Public Health Officer Training Program and has supervised and trained numerous Public Health Officer and Biostatistical trainees.

Associate Professor David Heslop

Conjoint Academic, School of Population Health

Associate Professor David Heslop is a conjoint academic in the School, UNSW, a medical practitioner and the Senior Medical Advisor CBRNE Medical Operations to the Australian Army. He leads a dedicated CBRNE capable medical incident response capability. He has ADF wide responsibilities for the provision of on call CBRNE health capability advice, policy development and CBRNE operational health risk analysis and advice.

Dr Alex Rosewell

Senior LecturerSchool of Population Health

Dr Alex Rosewell is a  graduate of the Australian Field Epidemiology Training program, the MAE at ANU, and completed his PhD on “Strengthening Disease Surveillance in Papua New Guinea” at UNSW, while working in the Emerging Diseases Surveillance and Response Team in WHO. He has extensive experience in infectious diseases outbreak control including cholera, Ebola, shigellosis, measles, influenza, meningococcal disease, hepatitis E, pertussis and turtle meat poisoning. He has substantial field experience with WHO/PAHO in Papua New Guinea, Haiti, Nicaragua, India, Sierra Leone, Jordan, Philippines etc.

Dr Rose Leontini

LecturerSchool of Population Health

Dr Rose Leontini is a Lecturer in the School, where she teaches clinical and public health ethics in the medical programme and in a number of postgraduate courses. She has an interdisciplinary background, with research and teaching interests including health ethics, health sociology, history and philosophy of science and technology, and cultural studies. Her research work includes the social and ethical dimensions of genetic testing, youth and alcohol, risk and harm minimisation, the sociology of health and illness, health and hygiene education, and illness narratives.

Guest speakers 

We will have guest speakers from the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Australian Defence Science and Technology Group, New South Wales Police, as well as:

Dr Chau Bui

Dr Chau Bui is currently doing a PhD on spatial modelling of Avian Influenza viruses in birds and humans. She has completed a Bachelor of Veterinary Science from USYD (2012) and a Masters of International Public Health from UNSW (2015). Her research interests include zoonotic diseases and geospatial analysis.

Chief Thomas Engells

Chief of Police, The University of Texas Medical Branch Police Department

Chief Thomas Engells is the Chief of Police at The University of Texas Medical Branch Police Department and an expert on vulnerability assessment in the hospital research sector. He has a Masters of Science (Criminal Justice Management) and a Masters of Arts (Homeland Defense and Security). He was selected as the inaugural recipient of The University of Texas System Police Pace Setter Award, 2012; The University of Texas Police Chief of the Year, 2011 and 2014; The Texas Association of College and University Police Administrators -  Law Enforcement Administrator of the Year in 2006 and has served as Chair, Clinical Ethics Committee of the MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Associate Professor Brian Gerber

Director, Emergency Management and Homeland Security program, College of Public Service and Community Solutions, Arizona State University

Associate Professor Brian Gerber is Director of the Emergency Management and Homeland Security program at the College of Public Service and Community Solutions, Arizona State University. Dr Gerber’s research specialization areas include disaster policy and management, homeland security policy and administration, and environmental regulatory policy. He has extensive experience performing policy analysis and program evaluation work for state and local government agencies, as well as major national non-profit agencies engaged in disaster relief and recovery work.  Currently he is working on research related to local governments and climate change, large scale disaster evacuation management, the dynamics of natural hazards governance.

Eric T Haas

Eric T Haas spent over a decade in municipal public safety emergency services as a paramedic firefighter, instructor, and field training officer before accepting a position with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  Mr. Haas is currently assigned to the Counter-IED Section of the Critical Incident Response Group, where he provides specialized medical support to CBRNE response teams.  Mr. Haas graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from Mary Washington College (Fredericksburg, VA), and obtained a Master’s Degree in Emergency and Disaster Management, with Honors, from American Public University (Charlestown, WV).

Peta Mantel

Clinical Epidemiologist, Department of Defence

Peta Mantel is a clinical epidemiologist with the Department of Defence. She has a Masters in Clinical Epidemiology with Merit and a Masters in Applied Science (Environmental Health). Over her 18 years in the Australian Army she has gained a wealth of experience in domestic and international health threats. She has previously worked as a senior environmental health officer for the United Nations in Timor Leste and the Peace Monitoring Group in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea. During her time in Timor Leste she was worked as part of the WHO outbreak investigation team for various infectious disease outbreaks among deployed troops and the local population. She has also undertaken the role of Deputy Chief Inspector of the biological weapons inspection team in Iraq in 1998 as part of the United Nations Special Commission on Iraq. Her interest lies in pandemic warning and the early detection of the emergence of pathogens with pandemic potential.

Chief Inspector, Caroline O'Hare

Chief Inspector Caroline O’Hare has been a police officer for the past thirty five years. She is qualified as and performed duty in the following areas; Detective, Police Prosecutor, Counter Terrorism Negotiation Team Leader, Intelligence Analyst. She has been involved in counter terrorism since 1987. She is also a Solicitor in the Supreme Court of NSW and has degrees in Criminology and Policing. In 2008, Caroline was awarded the "Most Outstanding Female Leader of the Year" by the Australasian Council of Women in Policing Awards. In 2016, she was awarded Australian Police Medal (APM) by the Governor General of Australia in the Australia Day Honours list, for Distinguished Service. She has been involved in the police response to major incidents including Australia’s first terrorism cold case investigation into the bombings of the Israeli Consulate Sydney and the Hakoah Club Bondi involving collaboration with the US FBI, the Israeli National Police and seventeen other international law enforcement agencies. In 2000, Caroline was appointed Commander Operations, Dignitary Protection Sydney 2000 Olympics. She was the Negotiation Team Leader for the arrest of Ivan Milat, serial murderer and for the Cangai Siege on the north coast of NSW that involved three offenders who had murdered five people across three states, and had taken hostages including children in a remote farmhouse. All hostages were safely released through negotiation.

Professor Bill Rawlinson

Senior Medical Virologist and Director of Serology and Virology at South Eastern Sydney and Illawarra Health Service

Professor Bill Rawlinson is Senior Medical Virologist and Director of Serology and Virology at South Eastern Sydney and Illawarra Health Service. He is Director of the TGA licensed laboratory testing NSW organ donors for blood borne viruses, and the virology research laboratory. He is a molecular virologist with particular expertise in herpes viruses (CMV), emerging viruses, enteroviruses, and respiratory viruses.

Dr Jennifer Moore

Dr Moore is a Senior Lecturer at UNSW Law, a barrister and solicitor of the New Zealand High Court, and an epidemiologist and health sociologist (PhD, Faculty of Medicine, University of Melbourne). She specialises in health law and torts. She was the 2015-2016 Harkness Fellow in Health Care Policy and Practice at Stanford where she undertook health law research. Prior to joining UNSW Law in 2017, Moore was a Senior Lecturer in Preventive Medicine and Acting Director of the Legal Issues Centre, Faculties of Medicine and Law, University of Otago in New Zealand. She was a lecturer in the Health Sciences Department, Faculty of Medicine, Monash University, Australia (2003-2006). She has also studied and worked as an academic at Hebrew University in Israel. Her non-academic roles have included serving as a Legal and Policy Advisor to the New Zealand Law Commissioners (2011-212) and a member of the New Zealand Law Society’s Health Law Committee.