During the Cold War, the Soviet Union military industrial complex concentrated on becoming a biological superpower by transforming viruses and bacteria to weapons of war. Industrial scale biological weapons facilities were built to win the germ war arms race.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, newly independent Republics were faced with the challenge of dealing with deadly pathogens at sites left unprotected and vulnerable to theft.

The Nunn-Lugar Biological Threat Reduction program went beyond the initial focus of the CTR program and sought to dismantle this massive biological WMD research, development and production infrastructure.

The program operates within an interagency framework to prevent the proliferation of expertise, materials, equipment and technologies that could contribute to the development of biological weapons. DTRA has carried out implementation of the biothreat reduction projects in Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Ukraine.

Over the years, the BTRP has made significant contributions to international and homeland security. Assistance to partners across the former Soviet Union has been provided to:

  • Consolidate and secure dangerous pathogen collections into central reference labs or repositories;
  • Improve the safety and security of biological facilities;
  • Enhance partner states’ capabilities to detect, diagnose, and report bio-terror attacks and potential pandemics;
  • Engage scientists with biological weapon-related expertise in research that supports force protection, medical countermeasures, diagnostics, and modeling.

Today, ongoing work also emphasizes cooperation and collaborative research with institutes and scientists to strengthen the detection and diagnosis of highly infectious disease outbreaks and related biothreats.