The U.S. Department of Defense has recently awarded a notable contract related to the field of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) defense or life science research of interest for applications in biodefense:
Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Ariz, is being awarded a $6,988,284 cost-reimbursable contract for the characterization of antibody responses to melioidosis in humans and in animal models for the Defense Threat Reduction Agency in support of the Research and Development Enterprise. Bids were solicited and nine received. Work will be performed in Flagstaff, Ariz., and Darwin, Australia, and is expected to be completed February 2019. The contracting activity is Defense Threat Reduction Agency, Fort Belvoir, Va, (HDTRA1-14-C-0022).
Related excerpts from Northern Arizona University:
–David Wagner, NAU Associate Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and Associate Director of The Center for Microbial Genetics & Genomics, has brought aboard Katy Califf from Michigan State University to help analyze large genomic datasets to identify a possible new vaccine and therapeutic targets for melioidosis, a disease caused by the bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei. “The ability to generate large amounts of genomic data has revolutionized the biomedical sciences. However, handling and analyzing these large datasets is not trivial and requires specialized skills—skills that currently do not exist in my research group,” Wagner explained. Califf brings that skillset to NAU. “This work has great potential to develop new intellectual property for NAU, and should also lead to more external funding,” said Wagner. (Spring 2013) Source: NAU Spring Newsletter
— Kenzie Shippy and her team work with the Defense Threat Reduction Agency to differentiate pathogenic, disease-causing burkholderia from its non-pathogenic counterparts. She explains that current knowledge on burkholderia is scarce, and that discovering what makes it pathogenic is key in combating potential bioterrorism threats.
“Because it is disease-causing and can be found in the soil, it gives it a really high potential of being used as a biological weapon,” Shippy says. “We want to sequence the DNA of non-pathogenic burkholderia and compare it to the pathogenic strains – how it differs will show us which genes are pathogenic and what can cause disease.”
Troops stationed overseas could be easily exposed to soil containing burkholderia, for example, and Shippy says it is important to determine whether or not it’s naturally-occurring. “One reason the Defense Agency is so focused on this bacteria is because it is so poorly understood,” Shippy says. “It could be easy for someone to acquire it, so we want to be able to develop tests that tell us whether it’s a pathogen or a non-pathogen.” Read the rest at NAU: Preventing Terrorism Through Bioscience (2013).