NICBR Board of Directors Visit USDA
Members of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service's Foreign Disease-Weed Science Research Unit hosted a tour this week of their state-of-the-art insect containment facility. The tour was for the Board of Directors of the National Interagency Confederation for Biological Research, following their semi-annual meeting.
Doug Luster, who heads the ARS laboratory, hosted the tour. Prior to the tour, Dr. Steven Kappes, Acting Associate Administrator for National Programs for ARS, provided an overview of the agency, which is the USDA's chief intramural scientific research arm. Their insect containment facility was designed and constructed for the study of how pest species transmit diseases to crops, diminishing their yield and quality. Caged colonies of aphids and nonnative pests, such as Asian citrus psyllids, which transmit citrus greening disease, are maintained at the facility. Members of the Board of Directors also received an external tour of the ARS laboratory's biosafety level-3 green-house building, where exotic plant pathogens can be securely studied on their crop and weed hosts.
Food and Drug Administration Chief Scientist and NICBR Board of Directors member Jesse L. Goodman, MD, MPH, said, "It was great to see the fascinating work that USDA scientists are doing to protect our nation from disease threats to our agricultural plants and to our forests. The Fort Detrick facility provides a unique capability to study important plant diseases - a capability that is essential to our economy, our well-being and our national security. FDA is very pleased to be a partner in the NICBR, using science to keep our nation safe."
The Board of Directors provides oversight and strategic direction for the NICBR partner agencies-particularly in their development and transfer of new technologies, knowledge, and products to ensure the health and security of military personnel and the general public. "The tours afford an opportunity for NICBR leadership to learn first-hand about research being conducted by member agencies as well as meet the staff and identify potential areas for collaboration on future projects," said Luster.
The mission of the NICBR is to develop unique knowledge, tools, and products by leveraging advanced technologies and innovative discoveries to secure and defend the health of the American people. In addition to ARS, the NICBR comprises members from the:
- United States Army, United States Army Medical Command (United States Army Medical Research and Materiel Command and United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases);
- United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Integrated Research Facility;
- HHS, National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute at Frederick;
- United States Department of Homeland Security, Science and Technology Directorate, National Bio-defense Analysis and Countermeasures Center;
- HHS, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention;
- United States Navy, Naval Medical Research Center, Biological Defense Research Directorate;
- HHS, Food and Drug Administration, Office of the Commissioner;
- United States Army, Installation Management Command