U.S. launches three biodefense centers

June 19, 2012

Texas A&M University moves to the forefront of the US biodefense effort (credit: Texas A&M University)

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today awarded contracts for the creation of three new centers tasked with responding to the threat of future pandemics and biological attacks, Nature News Blog reports.

Based in Maryland, North Carolina and Texas, the three “Centers for Innovation in Advanced Development and Manufacturing” are the first tangible result of a review concluded by HHS in 2010.

It highlighted major improvements needed to effectively fight an outbreak from an emerging disease, such as H1N1 in 2009 or severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003, or a bioterrorism attack, such as the anthrax attacks of 2001.

The largest award — $176 million over five years — went to Texas A&M University.

HHS projects that the centers will be able to produce 25% of the country’s pandemic flu vaccine supply within four months of an outbreak, with the infrastructure in place by 2014 or 2015.