The Forum on Microbial Threats was created in 1996 at the request of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health to provide a structured opportunity for discussion and scrutiny of critical, and possibly contentious, scientific and policy issues related to research on and the prevention, detection, surveillance, and responses to emerging and reemerging infectious diseases in humans, plants, and animals, as well as the microbiome in health and disease. The Forum brings together leaders from government agencies, industry, academia, and nonprofit and philanthropic organizations to facilitate cross-sector dialogue and collaboration through public debate and private consultation to stimulate original thinking about the most pressing issues across the spectrum of microbial threats.
Despite decades of progress, the need for the Forum on Microbial Threats remains. Problems such as MERS, Ebola, Chikungunya, Zika, yellow fever, and antibiotic resistance demonstrate how the issue of emerging infections is global and unrelenting. The drivers are ever more pervasive, and the consequences—human, social, and economic—loom larger than ever.
The Forum convenes several times each year to identify and discuss key problems and strategies in the area of microbial threats. To supplement the perspectives and expertise of its members, the Forum also holds public workshops to engage a wide range of experts, members of the public, and the policy community. All workshops are summarized in high-quality, scholarly workshop proceedings that are available for free download from the National Academies Press.