UCI awarded $40 million to establish regional biodefense and infectious disease research center

Irvine, Calif., June 1, 2005 -- The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has awarded UC Irvine $40 million over four years to establish the Pacific-Southwest Center for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases Research -- one of only 10 federally funded regional centers dedicated to research for countering threats from bioterrorism agents and infectious diseases.

The largest ever received by the university, the grant was awarded to UCI infectious disease expert Dr. Alan Barbour, who also will serve as director of the new center. Barbour is internationally known for first isolating the cause of Lyme disease.

"Our center will bring together some of the country's best basic scientists and engineers for the common goal of preventing illness by developing more accurate tests to detect infections and new vaccines to protect people," Barbour said. "It's on a scale and with a level of cooperation that in the past has been seen mainly in the physical sciences, like climate studies and high-energy physics."

Rep. Chris Cox, who is chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security and whose district includes Irvine, sent a letter of support for the center in November 2004 to the head of the NIAID, Dr. Anthony Fauci. Following news of the grant, Cox said, "This research center will use America's scientific expertise to assist our efforts for homeland security and overall public health, and I'm thrilled that the NIAID recognizes that UCI is a national leader in bio-medical science."

The center will administer and finance projects not only at UCI, but those at a consortium of 16 universities and research institutes in California, Arizona, Nevada and Hawaii. Its mission will be to bolster basic biomedical research into bioterrorism agents, such as those that cause anthrax and botulism, and naturally occurring infectious diseases, including West Nile virus, hantavirus and dengue, which affect increasing numbers of peop

Contact: Tom Vasich
University of California - Irvine

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