DHS starts work on $128 million biodefense center

Jun 27, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials broke ground yesterday for the National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center (NBACC) at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Md.

Construction of the NBACC is slated for completion in 2008, DHS officials said in a news release. The facility's estimated cost is $128 million, according to an April 2005 Congressional Research Service (CRS) report.

The 160,000-square-foot facility will house two centers, the Biological Threat Characterization Center (BTCC) and the National Bioforensic Analysis Center (NBFAC). The BTCC’s task is to define biothreat agents and conduct risk assessments to guide research, development, and acquisition efforts and to support the intelligence community, according to DHS. The NBFAC is the lead federal facility for conducting forensic analysis after a biological attack.

The facility will include laboratories with the highest level of biosecurity, Biosafety Level 4, for handling dangerous pathogens, according to the CRS report.

"Scientific research is fundamental to reducing the high consequences of a biological attack," said DHS Deputy Secretary Michael Jackson, as quoted in the DHS press release. "Our threat picture is ever-changing, and this facility will provide enduring biodefense capability against these types of emerging threats."

The NBACC will be located at the new National Interagency Biodefense Campus (NIBC). The campus includes laboratories belonging to the Department of Defense, the Department of Agriculture, the National Institutes of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to DHS. (Fort Detrick is the home of the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases.)

The new center is a component of the Bush administration’s "Biodefense in the 21st Century" initiative and meets requirements in the Homeland Security Act of 2002, the DHS statement said.

See also:

Congressional Research Service report, Apr 25, 2005
http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/homesec/RL32891.pdf

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