A&M announces formation of National Biosecurity Foundation

Enhancing national security against infectious diseases, bioterrorist attacks

HOUSTON—Texas A&M University System announced the formation of the National Biosecurity Foundation, a nonprofit corporation with the mission to provide comprehensive, integrated solutions to enhance biosecurity against naturally emerging infectious diseases and bioterrorist attacks.

By developing highly integrated public-private partnerships, the foundation will leverage the expertise of the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, combined with the interdisciplinary innovation of top-tier academic institutions.

Dr. Brett Giroir, vice chancellor for research for the Texas A&M System and executive director of the system’s Institute for Innovative Therapeutics, announced the formation of the Foundation during his address to BioHouston, where he detailed the foundation’s goals:

• Develop a comprehensive and integrated international coalition of leading academic, commercial and nonprofit organizations dedicated to discovering and implementing capabilities to enhance our nation’s biosecurity;

• Provide a mechanism to facilitate first-in-class collaboration, research and technology commercialization across diverse organizations;

• Respond to the federal government’s call for Centers for Innovation in Advanced Development and Manufacturing to augment public health and biodefense needs on a cost-effective, reliable and sustainable basis.

“The threat of a new emerging epidemic or intentional biological attack is among the greatest facing our nation,” said Giroir, one of the leading national experts on biodefense research, who will serve as the foundation’s president and CEO.

“This summer, the comprehensive biosecurity review sponsored by the federal Department of Health & Human Services indicated that the U.S. needs a new model, as well as significant investment, to provide the flexible, assured capability required for lasting biosecurity,” he said.

“We in Texas have anticipated many of these national needs and are well prepared to answer our nation’s call,” Giroir continued. “The formation of the foundation is the next step in the A&M System’s commitment to accelerating new therapies on behalf of global health and biosecurity, and the work ahead for the Foundation will be my highest priority.”

The A&M System has recently established R&D programs and infrastructure to lead the national efforts in biosecurity and global health. Among these programs is the Institute for Innovative Therapeutics, which represents the integration of the system’s multiple state-of-the-art research programs, facilities and affiliated academic and commercial partners.

The IIT enables innovators to seamlessly integrate development of new vaccines and therapeutics from the basic research laboratory, through initial validation, GLP (Good Laboratory Practice) preclinical models, GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) manufacture and Phase One clinical trials.

As such, the IIT accelerates translation of biomedical countermeasures from the basic research “idea” into a commercially available product to prevent or treat diseases as diverse as pandemic influenza and cancer.

The foundation will be headquarted in College Station, Texas, with an advisory board comprised of key academic, nonprofit and commercial leaders.

Texas A&M-led research teams are currently at work on multiple biosecurity-related projects with high potential impact, including:

• A high-throughput cell platform for discovering new drug and vaccine targets against biothreats, at the Texas A&M Institute for Genomic Medicine;

• A program to improve survival after traumatic hemorrhage on the battlefield, conducted at the Texas A&M Institute for Preclinical Studies;

• A first-in-class, flexible, modular and scalable therapeutics research and manufacturing program to revolutionize product development and emergency responses, at the National Center for Therapeutics Manufacturing;

• Project GreenVax, a federally sponsored research and development project to demonstrate the production of at least 10 million doses of pandemic flu vaccine per month, made with plants in partnership with G-Con, LLC;

• The globally-recognized disaster response training and facilities available through the Texas Engineering Extension Service’s National Emergency Response and Rescue Training Center;

• Countering the mental and physical affects on veterans and citizens following battle or disaster experiences, through Texas A&M University’s Department of Psychology.

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2010-10-28 digital edition

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