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U.S. Army Moves Ahead with New Biodefense Facility

Global Security Newswire

Construction is expected to begin next year on a new facility at Fort Detrick, Md., for the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, Inside the Pentagon reported (see GSN, July 31).


The institute, which researches countermeasures against biological agents that might be used against the military or civilians, operates from a decades-old facility designed to hold 325 employees. It now has 750 people assigned to the space.

The new facility would have space for 1,000 to 1,400 staff members, according to USAMRIID spokeswoman Caree Vander Linden. It would contain space for laboratory work at Biosafety Levels 2, 3 and 4. Work on the most infectious disease agents is conducted at Biosafety Level 4 laboratories.

The $1 billion site would provide the institute with additional capability for testing biological agents in aerosolized form to prepare defenses against the potential bioterrorism threat.

Work is scheduled to begin in the third quarter of 2007; the first stage would be completed in five years and the second stage in four, according to Inside the Pentagon. Funding for the first stage was included in the fiscal 2006 defense appropriations bill, while the second stage has yet to be approved, Vander Linden said.

Construction began in June at Fort Detrick for the Homeland Security Department’s National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center. The facility is due to be completed in two years, and would house a Biosafety Level 4 laboratory and the agency’s Biological Threat Characterization Center and the National Bioforensic Analysis Center.

The USAMRIID and Homeland Security facilities ultimately would join with an Agriculture Department research unit and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases as a multidepartment biodefense campus.

Such a site would promote collaboration against biological terrorism, according to defense officials (Daniel Wasserbly, Inside the Pentagon, Oct. 12).

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