The Forum on Microbial Threats was created in 1996 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, reemerging, and novel infectious diseases in humans, plants and animals as well as the microbiome in health and disease. Since its creation the topics and issues that have been examined and discussed by the Forum continue to be of major global public health importance. Through public debate and private consultation, the activities of the Forum strive to facilitate discussion and inquiry into the most challenging and cross- cutting sets of challenges within and across the spectrum of ?microbial threats.? Activities of the Forum are designed to examine emerging as well as long-standing challenges in microbial ecology in ?health? and ?disease?. The Forum has been instrumental in changing the infectious disease paradigm from ?the only good ?bug? is a dead ?bug?? to a more ecologically- informed view of the beneficial contributions of the microbiome in health maintenance and how these microbial communities influence and are influenced by their environmental context. The summary reports of Forum workshops have highlighted and often anticipated some of the most important infectious disease issues of the past decade, including the challenge of emerging fungal diseases and the persistent problem of antimicrobial resistance. Through dissemination to public leaders, private industry, and policymakers, these summary reports have served as useful and timely educational resources and records of these public discussions and deliberations. Today, the complexities and challenges posed by vector and non-vector borne diseases and the corresponding trends that contribute to their emergence and reemergence continue to confound the world?s public health, scientific, medical, pharmaceutical, and policymaking communities. The global vulnerability of human, plant, and animal populations has been increasingly recognized as a challenge not only to personal health, but also to public safety, economic stability and development, and national and international security. The realities of the unrelenting resurgence of once manageable diseases, the emergence of multidrug resistant infectious diseases, the emergence and spread of newly identified pathogens such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), the global challenge of multi-drug resistant microorganisms, the reemergence of vector-borne disease as a major, global, public health concern, and the emergence of the first global influenza pandemic of the 21st century?H1N1?serve as timely reminders of the continuing evolution of infectious diseases and their attendant impacts on human, plant, and animal health?domestically and internationally. The activities of the Forum continue to track and anticipate these evolving challenges. As a result of such cross-sector dialogue, priority issues for infectious disease research and public health policy have been recognized; critical issues warranting further investigation have been identified; and there have been increased opportunities for more effective collaborations and dialogue between the private and public sectors represented on the Forum, as well as between the medical, veterinary, and plant disease communities. The Forum?s membership consists of individuals from a wide range of disciplines and organizations in the public and private sectors, including the public health, medical, pharmaceutical, veterinarian, academic science, agricultural, and environmental communities.
The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine has established the Forum on Microbial Threats 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 strives 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. The resultant cooperation and the stringent quality standards associated with the National Academies events ensure that the quality of the Forum's work meets an unusually high standard. 1