Bioforensics Analysis Research and Development Center created at Los Alamos

LOS ALAMOS, N.M., August 29, 2005 -- In October 2001, "anthrax- letters" laden with B. anthracis bacteria spores appeared in various locations around the nation. To help authorities trace the source of the deadly letters, bioforensic analysts, Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists among them, worked diligently to pinpoint the specific strain of bacteria used. This summer, recognizing Los Alamos' technical capabilities, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) allocated $4 million for a new research and development program in bioforensics under the sponsorship of the National Bioforensic Analysis Center (NBFAC) of the DHS. To meet this challenge, Los Alamos has consolidated its subject matter expertise and bioforensic research and development capabilities to form the Los Alamos Bioforensics Analysis Research and Development Center.

The new center will work to develop, evaluate and validate novel methods and techniques that can be used to support bioforensic analysis for the NBFAC. Bioforensics involves examining traces of a biological agent from a bioterrorism act, biocrime or investigation as well as naturally occurring biological agent release. The research and development work at the center will enable bioforensic analysts to answer crucial questions such as what kind of biological agent was used, where and when it was made, and how it was prepared.

Through the use of several different technologies, researchers involved in bioforensics will develop, evaluate and validate the tools needed to characterize specific information about an agent that will help to determine whether it was released intentionally or appears naturally in the environment.

The programs of the Los Alamos Bioforensics Analysis Research and Development Center, involving approximately 30 individuals, focus on a triad of specialized areas of bioforensic-analysis research and development. Researchers in the first program work to develop and identify molecular

Contact: Nancy Ambrosiano
DOE/Los Alamos National Laboratory

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