This application proposes the establishment of the New England Regional Center of Excellence (NERCE) for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases Research. The NERCE will support the timely development of preventive and therapeutic interventions against microbes that can be used as weapons of bioterrorism. In performing its mission, the NERCE will leverage the region's tremendous biomedical research strength which resides not only in our nation's finest academic institutions and teaching hospitals, but also in dynamic industrial research facilities of many of the world's leading pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. The Center will strive to become the focal point for New England's research and development in biodefense, catalyzing collaborative work, creative thinking, and innovative solutions to the myriad challenges posed by biological threats. The NERCE will consist of a series of collaborative projects of various scales supported by core laboratories providing critical services important to biodefense research. These services will include biosafety level-3 animal model support, genomic-scale proteomics, high-throughput screening for chemical inhibitors, large-scale biological molecule production, and clinical investigation of vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics. The flexible administrative structure governing NERCE assures that outstanding projects in biodefense will have access to the Center's core services and appropriate levels of internal support. The immediate goal in establishing NERCE will be to translate existing scientific information into deployable technology. This goal will encompass the development of vaccines for some of the major biodefense CDC/NIH Category A threats, vectors for delivery of vaccine antigens, inhibitors of toxin action, and small molecules that block the penetration of viruses through cell membranes. Thus, the NERCE will seek to apply recent dramatic advances in genomics, proteomics, structural biology, immunology, vaccinology, chemistry, drug screening, and material sciences to problems of biodefense importance. NERCE's faculty members will also be involved in basic microbiological training specific to the study of organisms that represent threats as biological weapons and in clinical training in the management of biological casualties. Thus, the NERCE will greatly improve the preparedness of the United States to resist and respond to attacks by infectious agents, whether their source is bioterrorism or nature. ? ?

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-NBS-M (M2))
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Hirschberg, Rona L
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Harvard University
Schools of Medicine
United States
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