1a. Objectives (from AD-416)
Under this agreement, ARS will collaborate with APHIS, FAS and Department of Defense (DOD) Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) in the project, “Collaborative International Engagement to Prevent and Mitigate Threats from Especially Dangerous Pathogens in Agriculture” in order to support the President’s National Strategy for Countering Biological Threats. The Project specifically targets the following mutual objectives. 1) Coordinate USDA and DTRA programs with partners in a manner that establishes mutual priorities for engagement ; 2) Expand international partnerships and bioengagement; 3) Strengthen partners’ capacities to comply with World Organization for Animal Health guidelines for surveillance, detection, diagnosis and reporting of notifiable diseases; 4) Promote development of international guidelines for safety and security of high risk pathogens/toxins; 5) Support partner efforts to apply safety and security practices in a risk-based and sustainable manner.
1b. Approach (from AD-416)
The Office of International Research Programs (OIRP) of ARS, in coordination with FAS, APHIS and DTRA will provide program management and administrative approval and oversight to ensure that all collaborations are consistent with ARS objectives and U.S. foreign policy. OIRP will work with additional relevant partners to engage scientific experts in agricultural research, development, monitoring and surveillance. The priority countries for collaboration between USDA and DTRA under this agreement include Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine.
3. Progress Report
ARS technical experts and project managers participated in three in-country planning workshops in Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine in October, November and February along with FAS and APHIS representatives to meet with in-country partners at institutes, Ministries of Agriculture, U.S. Embassies, and other relevant organizations. ARS coordinated the participation of Dr. Eileen Thacker, ARS National Program Leader for Animal Health, in the International and Scientific Conference in Crimea, Ukraine, May 30-June 04, 2011. The event was hosted by the National Scientific Center "Institute of Experimental and Clinical Veterinary Medicine,” the leading research institution in Ukraine, and Dr. Thacker delivered a well-received presentation on the diagnosis, surveillance and control of brucellosis melitensis. ARS scientists also participated in two on-going DTRA funded cooperative biological research projects: ISTC 2685 with the Russian Research Institute of Phytopathology (VNIIF) and KZ-27 with the Research Institute of Biological Safety Programs (RIBSP) in Kazakhstan. Under ISTC 2685, ARS is coordinating the training of four scientists from VNIIF at ARS labs. The purpose of the training is to study molecular diagnostic methods to characterize phytopathogenic strains from the VNIIF collection. These scientists will receive training in three ARS labs: Genetic Improvement of Fruits & Vegetable Laboratory, Beltsville, MD; Horticultural Crops Research Unit, Corvallis, OR; and the Cereal Disease Laboratory, St. Paul, MN. In FY11, ARS collaborators approved the Russian training candidates and sent VNIIF copies of the appropriate import permits to receive plant pathogen samples in advance of the training. Training is planned for the fall of 2011 through January 2012. Under KZ-27, ARS Collaborator David Suarez, Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory, attended the DTRA Cooperative Biological Engagement Program (CBEP) 2011 Science Review held in Garmisch, Germany in March and met most of the participants in the project including the Director and co-Director of the RIBSP. In February 2011, ARS sponsored the participation of two Kazakhstanis, three Russians and eight Ukrainians in the First Annual ARS International Biosafety and Biocontainment Symposium in Baltimore, Maryland. This open forum served as a vehicle for training, education and discussion for biosafety and biocontainment issues in the agricultural sector. In particular, the symposium educated participants on the safety and security measures necessary to agriculture pathogen biosafety.