Sunday, August 31, 2014

Archive of Disappearing Bioterrorism Stories

LOU SABOTER -- this is just to keep this stuff out there.


NIH, neighbors at odds over fence, germ lab

By Judith Person

The effects of terrorism are straining the relationship between the National Institutes of Health and residents who live adjacent to the agency's sprawling Bethesda campus.
Problems began soon after the September 11 attacks, when federal officials made plans to protect the 327-acre facility with a security fence, which also would block residents' access to grassy fields and a Metro station. The situation intensified when the agency began discussing plans to build a laboratory to research germs and pathogens that could be used in biological attacks.
"We live in a different world now," said Tom Gallagher, director of NIH's office of community liaison. "Our challenge, since we need a fence, is how do you make a fence a friendly thing?"
Agency officials say they have tried. They designed the 9-foot-tall, cast-iron fence so residents in the Edgewood-Glenwood community, on the campus' southwest border, could still play soccer and go sledding. They also paved a bike path and spent about $360,000 to replace lights that residents said were shining into their homes.
The agency made the changes though it meant less security for some vehicles and an on-campus playground for children of NIH employees.
Agency officials think the changes were worthwhile because the neighbors are the agency's best security.
"They become our eyes and ears to watch for trouble," Mr. Gallagher said.
Still, the neighbors say the changes are not enough.
"To be truthful, NIH continues to let the community down," said Stephen Sawicki, president of the Edgewood-Glenwood Citizens' Association.
Association members are most upset because they think the lab could become a target for terrorist attacks and because the fence has blocked their shortcut to the Medical Center Metro station.
Lorraine Driscoll, who routinely walks across the campus to the metro stop, said that when the fence is finished her mile-long walk will be twice the length.
"That seems to go over the threshold," she said.
NIH has offered use of an employee shuttle, but neighbors say that will not help.
The campus was built in 1938 and has become one of the world's foremost medical research centers. The agency is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, whose mission is to provide leadership and guidance to the international scientific community. NIH has about 17,000 employees.
"We have asked NIH [officials] for three things and gotten nothing," said Mrs. Driscoll, president of the Huntington Terrace Citizens' Association. "We asked that they not build the fence. But, if there had to be a fence, we asked that they let the neighbors continue walking across campus to the Metro. Third, we asked that they not build a large, Level 3 biohazard lab in our densely populated neighborhood. NIH has not accommodated any of these requests."
She also said the agency is not required to go through public hearings to receive building permits, though officials have routinely met with residents to discuss the fence project.
Mr. Gallagher could not be reached late yesterday to discuss this.
The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission has served as an adviser on the issue and has held public meetings.
The commission made recommendations to the National Capital Planning Commission, which has not commented on the project.

Schools to Develop Bioterrorism Vaccines
Univ. of Md. to Lead Multi-School Effort to Develop Vaccines to Protect Against Bioterrorism

The Associated Press

The University of Maryland School of Medicine has been chosen to lead a multi-school effort to develop vaccines to protect against bioterrorism, the school announced Thursday.

The Middle Atlantic region will receive a five-year, $42 million grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Besides creating vaccines to guard against anthrax, smallpox and West Nile virus, they will study antibodies that could produce short-term protection.

"The events of 9-11 and the anthrax attacks that followed made it clear that there are nefarious people out there," Dr. Myron M. Levine, who is the regional leader. "We have also come to realize that we are extremely vulnerable and to a great extent unprepared for biological attacks. It is critical for us to develop preventive vaccines to protect ourselves."

Levine of the University of Maryland School of Medicine will be in charge of the collaboration of 16 research institutions such as Johns Hopkins University, University of Pennsylvania, University of Virginia, Georgetown University, George Washington University, West Virginia University and University of Pittsburgh. He will guide more than 60 scientists at three facilities in the region.

"Its like being an orchestra leader," Levine said. "It's my job to try to get everyone to play together to make a very special sound."

The regional researchers will study viruses that cause hemorrhage fever, such as ebola and Marburg, and target E. coli and shigella, bacteria considered to be threats because a small amount causes severe illness.

Researches will also design better diagnostic tests and needle-free vaccinations for fast response to a biological attack or infectious disease outbreak.

University of Maryland, Baltimore president David J. Ramsay said the university has established itself as a national leader in homeland security and biodefense research.

After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the Center for Vaccine Development had clinical trials on the effectiveness of the nation's smallpox vaccine.

Eight centers, with a lead institute and affiliated schools, will share about $350 million over five years.

The other centers are Duke University, Harvard Medical School, New York State Department of Health, University of Chicago, University of Texas Medical Branch, University of Washington and Washington University in St. Louis.

Copyright 2003 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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