AUSTIN, Texas—The University of Texas at Austin is part of a consortium of research partners who will share $13 million in federal funding for prevention research, testing, education and training to improve the nation’s defense against possible chemical and biological terrorism.
Congress last week authorized the funding of $13 million in the Fiscal Year 2000 Defense Appropriations Conference Report for the the National Center for Countermeasures to Biological and Chemical Threats, a multi-institutional consortium.
The partners in the consortium are Texas Tech University System, The University of Texas at Austin, UTMB at Galveston and UT-Southwest Medical Center in Dallas, the University of South Florida’s College of Public Health.
Other collaborators include the U.S. Department of Justice (South Texas); Texas Department of Health; Emergency Preparedness First Responders, Austin; Florida Department of Health, Tampa, Fla.; The Institute for Defense Analysis, Alexandria, Va.; and South Plains College, Lubbock.
To meet the national need to develop threat response capability to biological or chemical agents, the consortium partners will develop and integrate four areas of focus:
- Scientific validation of a possible biological/chemical incident (including air/fluid sampling, determination of pathogen virulence factors/pathogenicity islands and signatures, multi-array sensors);
- Physical and medical countermeasures for use on a regional/national scale or on small groups of affected people (rapid diagnosis, pharmaceuticals, vaccines, triage, quarantine, epidemiology and transport);
- Communication so appropriate action is taken by authorities with minimal social disorganization; and,
- Integrated system development (integration of sensors into systems; conversion of data to information, including data fusion and iconography).
The focus of the UT System partners will be on research and development in novel sensor design; medical triage; medical countermeasures, such as anti-virals, anti-bacterials and pharmaceuticals; and sytems integration.
Key points of contact for the research team include Steve Kornguth, assistant director of UT Austin’s Institute for Advanced Technology and principal investigator for the project; Juan Sanchez, vice president for research at UT Austin; David Schmidly, vice president for research at Texas Tech University; Ron Kendall, director of the Institute for Environmental Health and Human Sciences at Texas Tech; Robert Shope, professor of pathology at the UT Medical Branch in Galveston; Dorothea Wilson, vice president for research at UTMB; Professor Stephen Johnston, UT Southwestern Medical School; and William Neaves, vice president for research at UT Southwestern.
“The funds will be used to develop defenses against biological and chemical threats,” Kornguth said. “This is a dual-use technology development project, that will benefit delivery of health care to our population as well as protect against the threat of biological/chemical weapons,” Kornguth said.
Kornguth cited the support of several Congressional leaders as key to approval of the project, including Texas senators Kay Bailey Hutchison and Phil Gramm, Rep. Larry Combest of Lubbock, Rep. Henry Bonilla of San Antonio and Rep. C.W. Bill Young of Florida.
For more information, contact Steve Kornguth at (512) 232-4485.