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NIH Distributes Biodefense Funds
By Nancy Touchette

The U.S. National Institutes of Health has greatly expanded funding of biodefense-related research.

In response to increasing concern about the nation's vulnerability to attack with biological agents, the U.S. government is allocating generous sums to biodefense research in six major areas, including genomics, diagnostics, and vaccine development.

The President's 2003 budget allocated $1.55 billion to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for biodefense research.The lion's share—$1.16 billion—went to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), the principal NIH institute that supports biodefense research. The rest was divided among the other institutes.

NIAID has markedly expanded, intensified, and accelerated its ongoing research programs in biodefense and developed more than 50 biodefense research initiatives in Fiscal Years 2002 and 2003. During September, NIAID announced its plans to spend the recent allocation.

Awards include a total of $350 million to establish nine Regional Centers of Excellence for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases Research. The purpose of the centers is to conduct research aimed at understanding the biology of pathogens such as anthrax, plague, Ebola, and smallpox, and to develop new vaccines, antibiotics, and other therapies for preventing disease.

The NIAID awarded another $85 million to five Cooperative Centers for Translational Research on Human Immunology and Biodefense. These centers will focus on the human immune system and its response to bioterror agents.

And just before the fiscal year ended on September 30, NIAID announced awards to construct and support eight regional and two national biocontainment laboratories throughout the United States.

Each national laboratory will receive $120 million, while regional facilities will receive between $7 million and $21 million. Much of the research funded by the Regional Centers of Excellence will be conducted in these biocontainment facilities.

NIAID has also begun awarding contracts to companies to develop vaccines as part of their Biodefense Partnership program. A total of 31 grants have been awarded to pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies to develop products for biodefense, including vaccines, antibiotics, and diagnostic tests.


Centers Being Funded and
The Researchers Leading the Projects

Regional Centers of Excellence for
Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases Research

  • Duke University (Barton Haynes)
  • Harvard Medical School (Dennis Kasper)
  • New York State Department of Health (Ian Lipkin)
  • University of Chicago (Olaf Schneewind)
  • University of Maryland , Baltimore County (Myron Levine)
  • University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston (David Walker)
  • University of Washington (Samuel Miller)
  • Washington University in St. Louis (Samuel Stanley)

Cooperative Centers for Translational Research on
Human Immunology and Biodefense

  • Baylor Research Institute, Dallas, Texas
  • Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts
  • Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia
  • Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California
  • University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, Massachusetts

National Biocontainment Laboratories

  • Boston University (Mark Klempner)
  • University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (Stanley Lemon)

Regional Biocontainment Laboratories

  • Colorado State University, Fort Collins (Anthony Frank)
  • Duke University, Durham North Carolina (R.S. Williams)
  • Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisianna (Paul Whelton)
  • University of Alabama, Birmingham (Richard Marchase)
  • University of Chicago (Thomas Rosenbaum)
  • University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey , Newark (Russell Joffe)
  • University of Missouri , Columbia (Joe Kornegay)
  • University of Pittsburgh (Arthur Levine)
  • University of Tennessee , Memphis (Michael Dockter)

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