Tucson [Arizona] firm forms joint venture to detect biological threats
“A Tucson-based biotech company is teaming with a Maryland firm to create devices they say will quickly detect biological threats. Tucson's BioVigilant Systems Inc. will provide Rockville, Md.-based Innovative Biosensors Inc. with its hardware that detects biological agents. Innovative Biosensors, in turn, will provide collection and biological-identification products. The federal government, since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks has pushed local authorities to detect the presence of biological weapons, such as anthrax. However, no contract yet exists for the new, joint venture.” (Arizona Daily Star, 14jan08, Jack Gillum)
Idaho Technology, Inc. Plague And Tularemia Detection Kits Receive FDA [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] Clearance
“Idaho Technology, Inc. (ITI), a molecular biology instrumentation and reagents business in Salt Lake City, Utah, is proud to announce clearance from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for marketing of two new biothreat detection kits, the JBAIDS [Joint Biological Agent Identification and Diagnostic System] Plague and JBAIDS Tularemia Detection Kits. Both kits utilize real-time PCR [polymerase chain reaction] technology to identify the causative agents of plague (Yersinia pestis) and tularemia (Francisella tularensis).” (Medical Design Online,
U.S. attorney's office accused of anthrax case leaks
“Attorneys for the former Army physician who was branded a ‘person of interest’ in the deadly 2001 anthrax mailings named three federal officials Friday who they said leaked investigative details that harmed their client. The physician, Steven J. Hatfill, has not been charged with a crime and maintains his innocence. Hatfill is suing the FBI, the Justice Department and a handful of present and former law enforcement officials.
He alleges that the leaks were illegal, damaged his reputation and violated his right to privacy. ‘We have identified three of the leakers who were previously anonymous,’ one of Hatfill's attorneys, Mark A.Grannis, said near the outset of a sparsely attended hearing in federal court. ‘Some of the most damaging information leaked in this case [came] straight out of the U.S. attorney's office.’” (Los Angeles Times, 12Jan08, David Willman) http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/asection/la-na-anthrax12jan12,1,5104105.story?coll=la-news-a_section
Clinton calls for funds to bio program
“Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton called on President Bush this week to commit funds to a federal program known as BioWatch, an initiative to deploy bioweapons sensors to detect the airborne release of biological warfare agents. Clinton cited news reports indicating that city officials have ‘faced resistance’ from the Bush administration in deploying the sensors, which cost roughly $100,000 each.” (Metro New York, 11Jan08, Joshua Rhett
UK-Russia diplomatic row worsens
“A diplomatic row between Russia and the UK has intensified after Britain reopened two regional cultural offices, defying a Moscow order to shut them. Russia accused Britain of ‘intentional provocation’ and said it would refuse new visas to British Council staff. The UK ambassador, who was summoned by the Russian foreign ministry, said the offices will remain open. They were ordered to shut last month in a continuing dispute over ex-KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko's death in London.” (BBC News, 14Jan08) http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7186718.stm
EPA [U.S. Environmental Protection Agency] grant makes for a better environment
“The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) has awarded nearly $700,000 to Dionysios Dionysiou and coworkers to study processes used to purify drinking water. The USEPA awarded the grant of $698,689 to the University of Cincinnati to establish a baseline understanding of how toxins produced by cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) can be changed by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, a process used to disinfect drinking water. The research will be critical to developing cost-efficient UV technologies to treat water contaminated by such toxins. Dionysiou is also investigating treatment of algae-contaminated water specifically using sunlight and an environmentally friendly catalyst. ‘Some of the cyanobacterial toxins are even more toxic than the venom produced by many poisonous snakes,’ says Dionysiou, associate professor of environmental engineering. ‘These toxins have even been included in the list of chemical or biological warfare agents.’” (Nanowerk, 12Jan08, University of Cincinnati) http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=4029.php
Trying to Get Ahead of the Herd
“In the race to build a national defense against chemical and biological weapons, Annapolis-based PharmAthene is putting its money on an unlikely horse. Or goat, actually, one with unique properties to enable researchers' development of a drug that would foil the neurological effects of chemical weapons. PharmAthene has a herd of 200 of the animals at its research facility in Canada. Now it wants to add another, at the USDA [U.S. Department of Agriculture]'s Beltsville Agricultural Research Center in Prince George's County [Maryland]. […] PharmAthene has found an ally in Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.) for its plans to expand its goat herd. A House-Senate conference committee this week could consider a measure Cardin inserted in the federal farm bill that would permit the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center to lease space to a nongovernmental agency. […] PharmAthene executives said their firm was not far behind in the race to produce drugs to battle chemical weapons and [also] anthrax.” (Washington Post, 14Jan08, Anita Huslin) http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/01/13/AR2008011302330.html
Army unveils new name, sniffer vehicle for WMD school
“The U.S. Army's school for fighting chemical threats unveiled a new name Friday to reflect a broader focus on weapons of mass destruction. The U.S. Army Chemical School formally changed its name to the Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear School. Brig. Gen. Thomas Spoehr, chief of the Army Chemical Corps, acknowledged that ‘the name is a mouthful’ but said it reflects the increased importance of combating WMDs and the fact the school, has trained in those areas for years. […] Spoehr also showed off the school's new $6.5 million sniffer tank, a Stryker armored vehicle specially adapted for WMD reconnaissance that the general described as a huge advance over the predecessor Fox.” (Belleville News Democrat; 11Jan08; Marcus Kabel, AP) http://www.bnd.com/404/story/225167.html
Nuclear [and other WMD] Nonproliferation: DOE [U.S. Department of Energy]'s Program to Assist Weapons Scientists in Russia and Other Countries Needs to Be Reassessed
“To address concerns about unemployed or underemployed Soviet-era weapons scientists in Russia and other countries, the Department of Energy (DOE) established the Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention (IPP) program in 1994 to engage former Soviet weapons scientists in non-military work in the short term and create private sector jobs for these scientists in the long term. GAO assessed (1) DOE's reported accomplishments for the IPP program, (2) DOE's exit strategy for the program, and (3) the extent to which the program has experienced annual carryovers of unspent funds and the reasons for any such carryovers. To address these issues, GAO analyzed DOE policies, plans, and budgets and interviewed key program officials and representatives from 22 Russian and Ukrainian institutes. DOE has overstated accomplishments for the 2 critical measures it uses to assess the IPP program's progress and performance--the number of scientists receiving DOE support and the number of long-term, private sector jobs created.” (U.S. Government Accountability Office, 11Jan08 [Report dated 12Dec07])
S[outh] Korea's incoming government denies it may join US-led security program targeting N[orth[ Korea
“South Korea's incoming government denied a local media report Saturday that it is considering participating in a U.S.-led program aimed at stopping the spread of weapons of mass destruction by countries such as North Korea. The Chosun Ilbo newspaper reported the incoming government of President-elect Lee Myung-bak was weighing a Foreign Ministry suggestion that the country should consider becoming a full member of the Proliferation Security Initiative, or PSI, which calls for stopping and searching ships suspected of carrying weapons of mass destruction. […] South Korea has only been an observer to the PSI program and Seoul has so far balked at U.S. requests to become a full member. The liberal-led government has said it does not want to provoke North Korea, which views the PSI program as a U.S. attempt to overthrow the communist regime.” (The China Post, 12Jan08, AP) http://www.chinapost.com.tw/headlines/2008/01/12/51695/SKorea's-incoming.htm
George Mason’s biodefense program is designed to educate the next generation of biodefense and biosecurity professionals. By combining a foundation in the biological sciences with a focus on policy analysis, it is the first program of its kind in the United States to offer a broad field of study in the defense against biological threats and other weapons of mass destruction. The risks posed by biological threats have increased substantially in recent years due to globalization, advances in science and technology, and the changing nature of conflict and security. As the United States embarks on a range of ambitious efforts to enhance its biosecurity, there is a greater need than ever to instill a strong intersection of knowledge of policy, science and technology across the national security community. The nature of the problem defines the nature of the solution: interdisciplinary, interagency, intergovernmental, and international. The Biodefense program at George Mason University is unique in this approach. If your career choice requires you to further your knowledge of biological warfare and bioterrorism, counterterrorism, WMD non-proliferation, homeland security, emergency planning and preparedness, or global health, we encourage you to apply. The department offers an MS and a PhD in biodefense.
Please visit http://pia.gmu.edu/grad/biod/ for more information.
CNS ChemBio-WMD Terrorism News is prepared by the Chemical and Biological Weapons Nonproliferation Program of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in order to bring timely and focused information to researchers and policymakers interested in the fields of chemical, biological, and radiological weapons nonproliferation and WMD terrorism.