Press Releases

ICYMI: Congressman Brad Wenstrup Moderates Panel Discussion at the Ronald Reagan Institute About Biosecurity and the Weaponization of Artificial Intelligence

  • Wenstrup Beyond the SCIF

Congressman Brad Wenstrup (OH-02), member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and Chairman of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic, led the latest installment of the House Intelligence Committee’s Beyond the SCIF series with his panel on “Biosecurity and the Weaponization of Artificial Intelligence” in conjunction with the Ronald Reagan Institute.

What Was Discussed


  • The risks posed by strategic competitors like China in its race for artificial intelligence and biotech dominance and from non-state actors that can now harness technology to design bioweapons without sophisticated bioengineering expertise


  • The threats to the United States’ biosecurity posed by technologies like AI and the state of U.S. biodefense


  • Concrete actions policymakers can take in light of new vulnerabilities

Notable Quotes


“Just as innovation is creating new opportunities to benefit our national security, it is also creating vulnerabilities, and the debate domain of biosecurity is no exception. The democratization of emerging technologies like AI has only made it easier for our competitors and adversaries to engineer lethal, new pathogens to wreak havoc on biosecurity. Scientists have already demonstrated how large language models can be tasked to develop cookbooks for novel agents, lowering the barrier of entry for malign actors without significant and sophisticated bioengineering expertise.”

– Mr. Roger Zakheim, Washington Director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute


“Dr. Wenstrup is the Chairman of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic. His experience and background are vital in our ability to focus on biodefense and national health security. Americans, government officials, and our allies experienced a sense of urgency for further work on this critical issue following the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. This timely discussion will bring to light the risks that we can face and how we can combat those threats.”

– Chairman Mike Turner


“In February 2023, the Intelligence Community noted in their annual threat assessment the global shortcomings and preparedness for a pandemic. We can see that it would inspire many adversaries to consider options related to biological weapon development... These developments could enable novel biological weapons and could complicate efforts to detect, attribute, and actually assess the threat to treat it. So, ideally, we want to lead to accelerating detection, attribution, and treatment.”

– Congressman Brad Wenstrup


“We were born in the aftermath of 9/11, and so our roots are really in national security and in protecting intelligence, as are my personal roots. Then, over the last two decades, we’ve seen how readily that approach of connecting the data in an organization to the analysts and the decision-makers scales and can be widely applied. Over the last couple of years, we’ve gone from being the backbone of just the federal government response to COVID to really serving as a backbone across a number of other public health areas of interest.”

– Mr. Hirsh Jain,Head of Public Health and Senior Vice President, Federal, Palantir Technologies


“One of the threats that we are facing is the risk of being overmatched in the critical, convergent area of AI and biotechnology by a strategic competitor.AI is revolutionizing biotechnology, and the applications go far beyond the pharmaceutical domain, which I think is the domain that most people think about first when they hear about biotechnology. But really, these technologies can be applied to almost the whole breadth of our economy and change the way that we think about our agriculture, our energy sectors, our industrial production and means of manufacturing, and, of course, our defense and military applications. And our adversaries are keenly aware of the breadth of the potential here and are investing heavily across these domains.”

– Dr. Michelle Rozo, Vice Chair, National Security Commission on Emerging Biotechnology


“When I saw that they had a level-4 biolab in Wuhan, I turned to my wife, and I said, ‘I’d bet good American money that's where the COVID came from.’ Because I know the PRC’s approach to life science, they want to dominate the field. They put immense pressure on their researchers to come up with discoveries. They don’t share the same ethical constraints we share. Safety is not as big an issue for them.”

– Former Senator Jim Talent


“The concerns about bio attacks and bioweapons by regular actors, foreign terrorist organizations or individuals, and by state actors as well is very real. And that, of course, is only exacerbated by the advent of technology like AI that makes it easier to generate the sort of complicated pathogens, and then also that lowers the barrier to entry to people who might not have the sophistication and education to make use of that technology for malign reasons. So, if anything, today is the moment not only to re-sound the alarm from before and from the prior conditions but sound it even louder.”

– Hon. Ken Wainstein, Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Intelligence and Analysis

Panel Speakers:


  • Congressman Brad Wenstrup (OH-02), Member, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence; Chairman of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic


  • Mr. Hirsh Jain, Head of Public Health and Senior Vice President, Federal, Palantir Technologies


  • Dr. Michelle Rozo, Vice Chair, National Security Commission on Emerging Biotechnology


  • Former Senator Jim Talent, Former Vice Chairman, Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism


  • Hon. Ken Wainstein, Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Intelligence and Analysis; Former U.S. Homeland Security Advisor