Biodefense is a new component of national security, dedicated to protecting the country and the people against infectious disease and harmful biological agents. Since germs can grow and multiply in a host body and then spread to other people - even a small quantity of a deadly pathogen could be used to infect tens, thousands, or possibly millions of individuals. Infectious diseases continues to plague to modern society. Scientists are working to understand the mechanism of infectious disease. Engineers are building new tools and instruments to detect, prevent, and/or eliminate infectious disease. Doctors and health-care providers are using these new technologies in their practice, and alert us to new diseases which may be emerging.

Today you will learn

  • what is biodefense?
  • what are infectious diseases, and why are they dangerous?
  • how does the body protect itself against germs and infectious disease?
  • what are antibiotics and vaccines?
  • why is early detection important?
  • how do we detect germs in the laboratory?
  • what are some of the new ways that we can detect germs?
  • what are antibodies and why are they useful?
  • what is fluorescence and how is it useful?
  • how do scientists, engineers, and physicians work together to improve biodefense?


To understand new methods being developed at LLNL to detect germs before they can cause an epidemic outbreak of potentially deadly infectious disease.

Student Lecture Notes

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Speaker Bios

Dr.Frank Y. S. Chuang

Associate Director for Science and Education Integration at the NSF Center for Biophotonics, Science and Technology
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Frank Y. S. Chuang, M.D., Ph.D. received his undergraduate degree in bioengineering at UC Berkeley in 1987. Frank joined a team at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) to develop one of the first systems to treat surgically-inoperable brain tumors using accelerated heavy charged-particle beams. This work became part of the clinical neurosurgery programs at UCSF and Stanford University, and led to the eventual construction of the dedicated medical proton accelerator facility at Loma Linda Medical Center. In 1990, Frank received an NIH fellowship to join the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. His graduate research using fluorescence microscopy and spectroscopy to characterize the transmembrane signal activation of human white blood cells contributed to the current body of evidence which supports the existence of lipid rafts and microdomains in biomembrane architecture and physiology.

After completing his medical training and receiving a Ph.D. in immunology and biophysics, Dr. Chuang returned to California as a post-doctoral research fellow at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). In the Division of Medical Physics and Biophysics (M-Division, formerly the Medical Technology Program), he was the lead biomedical scientist for several projects developing new in vitro diagnostic systems for rapid, multiplex detection of microbial pathogens, and has written numerous papers and book chapters on optical methods of biodetection.

Dr. Chuang's current role in CBST is to provide integrative scientific, technical, and administrative support for the senior management team - and to serve as a biomedical research consultant for the science and educational programs. Dr. Chuang also works in part for the LLNL-UC Davis Integrated Cancer Center and is leading the effort on a joint project to develop clinical applications for a revolutionary new compact proton accelerator being designed and built in Livermore.