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Research Project: Training of Biodefense Research Workforce for the National Bio- and Agro-defense Facility (NBAF)

Location: Office of The Director

Project Number: 3020-32000-012-00-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Jul 1, 2017
End Date: Jun 30, 2022

Objective:
Objective 1. Develop the workforce needed to staff NBAF and fulfill the Foreign Animal Disease Research Unit’s mission to detect and control foreign animal diseases. Resources will be provided for academic-related expenses and the research projects that will enable the trainees to successfully achieve the academic requirements for obtaining degrees in one of the seven core scientific disciplines: pathology, virology, immunology, entomology, epidemiology, microbiology, and computational biology. Objective 2. Implement research projects under the direction and guidance of ARS scientists at the Foreign Animal Disease Research Unit (FADRU), PIADC, Orient Point, New York, and others in collaboration with FADRU.

Approach:
Division A of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017 (P.L. 115-31) contains an increase of $900,000 (NTL) for research on NBAF Workforce Development at the Center for Grain and Animal Health Research, in Manhattan, Kansas. The increased funds are to be used to establish a new ARS project, which will be held in the Office of the Center Director for the Center for Grain and Animal Health Research. There is a shortage of qualified scientists, including the availability of doctors of veterinary medicine (DVM) with a Ph.D degree, to conduct animal health research at the NBAF when the facilities become available in 2022. This will be addressed by specifically training scientists in the following seven core scientific disciplines: pathology, virology, immunology, entomology, epidemiology, microbiology, and computational biology. The objective and desired outcome is a mechanism to ensure a viable and qualified scientific workforce is available to implement a program to recruit and train scientists with expertise in biodefense research, with a focus on foreign and emerging animal diseases, including dangerous zoonotic pathogens. The mechanism for training scientists in biodefense research will be established in collaboration with the guidance of the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges. ARS does not presently have high containment facilities (BSL-3E, BSL-3Ag, and BSL-4) to train biodefense research scientists in Manhattan, Kansas. (However, through collaboration with Kansas state University, BSL-3Ag laboratories are available.)Therefore, the research projects needed to obtain a doctoral degree in one of the seven core scientific disciplines listed in the previous section will be conducted at the Plum Island Animal Disease Center (PIADC), Orient Point, New York, and/or the research facilities of collaborators contributing to the implementation of the ARS biodefense research programs. Dr. McVey, in collaboration with the National Programs Office, Plains Area Office, Atlantic Area Office, and PIADRU/ABADRU scientists will develop the execution plan for this project that will be in affect by September, 2017. It is expected that this will require agreements with multiple university partners. The agreements will define the operational methods and outcome expectations for training scientists capable of working on select agent animal diseases that are threats to U.S. animal agriculture.