The mission of the Western Regional Center of Excellence for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases Research (WRCE) is the creation of synergistic,.multifaceted research, strong infrastructure, and activities to develop vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics against natural and manmade emerging infectious disease threats by applying the best basic and translational science. Scientists from 22 institutions propose to conduct 15 major research projects and provide six supportive core activities. The WRCE is a unifying force in Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana for collaborative research on infectious diseases. The evaluation of the national RCE program revealed that the WRCE was the top performer in the number of new investigators in biodefense, number of projects, number of organisms studied, number of patents filed, and number of new projects supported by other funds that stemmed from RCE projects. Successful basic scientists with substantial expertise in Category A-C agents have truly embraced the unfamiliar goal of translational product-oriented research. The 15 major projects address four themes: development of therapeutic agents for RNA viruses, platforms for multiplexed diagnostics for Category A-C agents and emerging agents, vaccine development for arboviral and emerging viral diseases, and vaccine development for diseases caused by intracellular bacteria. The 15 projects are currently pursuing new specific aims;this is a result of the WRCE's strategy in the previous grant cycle to support developmental type grants to initiate next-stage projects, and an early competition for major projects one year before the completion of the cycle. This planning process allowed selection of the best, most relevant science and development of synergistic interactions within the themes. Attentive guidance by the administrative core's analysis of progress reports, site visits, regional meetings, workshops, and formal external product development consultations support research activities, along with monthly theme meetings to ensure the continued success of projects. Highly productive scientists utilize such regional sources as three national primate research centers, 19 institutions with BSL-3 laboratories, two institutions with BSL-4 laboratories, two vaccine development centers, two DOE national laboratories, 13 participating medical universities, three participating veterinary schools, and four institutions with aerobiology expertise to translate their outstanding scientific knowledge into program that delivers more than the sum of its parts.

Public Health Relevance

The Western Regional Center of Excellence for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases Research scientific program supports the national effort toward developing new drugs, diagnostics, and vaccines for infectious disease agents. The emergency response preparedness plan also ensures that facilities and subject matter expertise will be provided during a bioterror event or naturally occurring outbreak.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Specialized Center--Cooperative Agreements (U54)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZAI1-DDS-M (J2))
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Peters, Kent
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University of Texas Medical Br Galveston
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