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Rick Bright put his career on the line last year, when he blew the whistle on how then US president Donald Trump’s administration was handling the coronavirus pandemic. Bright, who was then director of the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) — which is responsible for countermeasures against pandemics, bioterrorism and other health emergencies — was abruptly removed from the agency. Now, he is trying his hand at curbing outbreaks from outside the government, where he is focusing on genomic surveillance of viruses.