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EPA and DHS Announce New Cooperative Center of Excellence for Research on Microbial Risk Assessment for Homeland Security

Release Date: 10/24/2005
Contact Information:


Contact: Suzanne Ackerman, 202-564-4355 / ackerman.suzanne@epa.gov or
Valerie Smith, DHS Press Office, 202-282-8010

(Washington, D.C.-Oct. 24, 2005) The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced the establishment of a jointly funded research center based at Michigan State University that will fill critical gaps in microbial risk assessment needed to support homeland security objectives. One grant of $10 million for five years was awarded to establish the center.

The new research center, named the Center for Advancing Microbial Risk Assessment (CAMRA), will provide policy-makers and first responders with the information they need to protect human life from biological threats and to set decontamination goals by focusing on two primary objectives. The first objective is a technical mission to develop models, tools, and information that can be used to reduce or eliminate health impacts from the deliberate indoor or outdoor use of biological agents. The second objective is a knowledge management mission to build a national network for information transfer about microbial risk assessment among universities, professionals, and communities.

E. Timothy Oppelt, EPA acting assistant administrator for Research and Development, said "Michigan State University and its collaborating institutions have assembled an exceptionally well-qualified team of researchers, and we know that the microbial risk assessments they will develop are essential for government agencies at all levels to be able to rapidly evaluate and communicate known and potential risks for biological threats in our air, buildings, and water distribution systems."

Added Dr. Charles E. McQueary, under secretary for Science & Technology at the Department of Homeland Security, "we look forward to this research center making valuable contributions to the science of microbial risk assessment for homeland security purposes, with the dividend that the tools, models, and information they develop also will have broader applications for our country."

The scientists comprising the Center's team have extensive expertise in microbial risk assessment methods, biosecurity, and infectious disease transmission through environmental exposure. The CAMRA consortium of schools that will address critical data gaps necessary to complete credible microbial risk assessments for decontamination includes Michigan State University, Carnegie Mellon University, Drexel University, Northern Arizona University, University of Arizona, University of California at Berkeley and the University of Michigan

CAMRA will undertake five major research efforts with the commitment to:

Improve our ability to measure exposure to biological agents of concern in drinking water and indoor air;

Develop a methodology to link models of environmental exposure and models of the disease process to help with early detection outbreaks and control efforts;

Produce a reference set of information on the doses and subsequent responses for specific bioterrorist agents;

Identify research strategies and risk communication priorities that can improve how society manages bioterrorism risk; and

Develop educational programs, online learning tools, and workshops to increase knowledge about microbial risk assessment.

The grant award will be $2 million per year for five years of study. The center is funded and supported through EPA's Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program and the Department of Homeland Security's University Programs office in the Science & Technology directorate.

For more information about CAMRA, see the Web site at: http://es.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/2004/2004_microbial_risk.html.