june 2016

Updates

DEA Releases 2016 National Heroin Threat Assessment Summary

The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) released the 2016 National Heroin Threat Assessment Summary (NHTA). The report outlines the expanding public health crisis afflicting the United States due to the use and abuse of heroin and other opioid drugs.

Updates

DOT and FAA Finalize Rules for Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems

The Department of Transportation's (DOT) Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has finalized the first operational rules for routine commercial use of small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS or "drones"), opening pathways towards fully integrating UAS into the nation's airspace. These new regulations work to harness new innovations safely, to spur job growth, advance critical scientific research and save lives.

Updates

Takeda Initiates World's First Norovirus Vaccine Field Trial

Takeda Pharmaceutical Company announced that it has dosed the first subject in a Phase 2b field efficacy trial of Takedas norovirus vaccine candidate (TAK-214), the only norovirus vaccine candidate in human clinical trials.

Updates

HHS Advances Pathogen Reduction Technologies for Blood Products

Two pathogen reduction device technologies that may help reduce the risk of transmitting disease through blood product transfusions, including those diseases related to Zika virus, will advance in development with the support of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response.

Updates

Researchers Study Combustion Behavior of Chemical Weapons

Researchers in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Texas A&M University are working on a project for the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). Dr. Eric Petersen and Dr. Waruna Kulatilaka will spend the next five years studying chemical reaction rates and developing techniques to counteract weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

Updates

Predicting Contagiousness to Limit the Spread of Disease

DARPA's new Prometheus program is setting out to develop the predictive capability to discover a minimal set of molecular biomarkers that would indicate, less than 24 hours after exposure to a pathogen, whether an individual will become contagious, allowing for early treatment or the initiation of other mitigating steps before a person begins infecting others.

Updates

Rigaku Analytical Devices Enhances Handheld Analyzer for Greater Threat Response

Rigaku Analytical Devices announced a major enhancement of its Progeny ResQ handheld chemical identification. The new feature, dubbed 4C Technology, significantly increases the usefulness of a handheld analyzer used at incidents by indicating the overall threat level posed by the presence of multiple individual chemicals.

Updates

UCF, DHS, IACP Partner on Bomb Threat Training Video

A new video produced by the University of Central Florida (UCF) and the Office for Bombing Prevention, within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), National Protection and Programs Directorate's (NPPD) Office of Infrastructure Protection, in collaboration with the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), aims to fill the knowledge gap and bring the DHS' bomb threat checklist to life.

Commentary

Balancing Risk - Understanding & Preparing for Catastrophes

by Catherine L. Feinman -

Space weather, nuclear, and catastrophic natural disasters are just lying in wait for the right combination of conditions. Although it is not possible to plan specifically for every type of threat - imaginable and unimaginable - it is necessary to weigh the risks associated with various threats and take sufficient actions to mitigate the devastating effects.

Updates

HHS Selects Regional Ebola Treatment Center for Southwestern U.S.

The California Department of Public Health, in partnership with Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, has been selected by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as the regional treatment center to treat patients infected with severe, highly infectious diseases for the region covering Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada and the Pacific island territories and freely associated states.

Reports

A National Trauma Care System: Integrating Military and Civilian Trauma Systems to Achieve Zero Preventable Deaths After Injury

The report, A National Trauma Care System: Integrating Military and Civilian Trauma Systems to Achieve Zero Preventable Deaths After Injury, presents a vision for a national trauma care system with zero preventable deaths after injury and minimal trauma-related disability to benefit future combat operations and the civilian system.

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Updates

FDA Approves Vaccine to Prevent Cholera for Travelers

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Vaxchora, a vaccine for the prevention of cholera caused by serogroup O1 in adults 18 through 64 years of age traveling to cholera-affected areas. Vaxchora is the only FDA-approved vaccine for the prevention of cholera.

Updates

Walter Reed Scientists Test Zika Vaccine Candidate

As mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus spread illness to people across the Americas and beyond, scientists at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research are moving quickly, conducting preclinical research on a Zika vaccine candidate with collaborators at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and planning to start human testing before the year ends.

Reports

DHS Should Take Steps to Ensure Timeliness of Information Needed to Protect U.S. National Security

In this report, the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) examines the extent to which Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries have implemented the required agreements. GAO also examines the extent to which the Department of Homeland Security evaluated VWP countries and reported to Congress as required.

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Updates

LLNL Supports NYC Subway Biodefense Test

Lawrence Livermore National Lab (LLNL) researchers took to the New York City subway system to help study how a surrogate for a biological agent, such as anthrax, might disperse throughout the nation's largest rapid transit system as a result of a terrorist attack or an accidental release.

Updates

Air Techniques Unveils Next Generation in Real-Time Biological Threat Detection

Air Techniques International (ATI) announced the release of the EBS Real-Time Biodetection Sensor. "The EBS provides biodetection capabilities that have previously been unachievable, including real-time classification of airborne particle types, single-spore sensitivity, and a substantial reduction in false triggers," said Ron Adkins, ATI President.

Updates

University of Texas School of Public Health Receives $1.3M Biosafety and Infectious Disease Training Grant

A multi-institutional collaboration, including The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Public Health, has been awarded a $1.3 million training grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to fund the Biosafety and Infectious Disease Training Initiative.

Preparedness

Space Weather - A Historic Shift in Emergency Preparedness

by Charles (Chuck) Manto -

For the first time since the demise of the civil defense program of the Cold War, the federal government has made one of the most significant modifications to its emergency preparedness message. A three-day emergency kit is no longer sufficient to prepare for emerging threats, whether coming from Earth or from space.

Preparedness

Cascadia Catastrophe - Not If, But When

by Arthur Glynn -

A 9.0-magnitude earthquake off the Washington and British Columbia coast along the 700-mile Cascadia Subduction Zone (CSZ)  followed by a tsunami with 90-foot or more wave surges in some areas  is possible based on geological factors and historical accounts. Communities in and around the CSZ, and those with interconnected waterways, need to be prepared for the inevitable.

Updates

DHS Announces $40M Funding Opportunity for New Criminal Investigations Center of Excellence

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Science and Technology Directorate, today announced a $40 million funding opportunity for an institution to lead a new DHS Center of Excellence for Criminal Investigations and Network Analysis. DHS S&T is additionally searching for potential partners to work with the lead institution in support of the Center's activities.

Updates

Speedy Terahertz-Based System Could Detect Explosives

Terahertz spectroscopy, which uses the band of electromagnetic radiation between microwaves and infrared light, is a promising security technology because it can extract the spectroscopic "fingerprints" of a wide range of materials, including chemicals used in explosives.

Updates

National Association of State 911 Administrators Announces 911 Regionalization Resources

The National Association of State 911 Administrators (NASNA) announces a new webpage containing tools and resources to help local and state 911 managers and authorities provide leadership and support for the regionalization of 911 systems.

Reports

PHMSA 2016 Emergency Response Guidebook

Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) 2016 Emergency Response Guidebook provides first responders with a go-to manual to help quickly identify emergency response procedures to deal with hazmat transportation accidents during the critical first 30 minutes.

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Preparedness

Preparing for Everything Under the Sun

by Joshua Sparber -

The Space Weather Conference in Broomfield, Colorado, on 25-29 April 2016 focused on improving space weather models and exploring more diverse and effective research tools. Current U.S. policy has shifted in favor of more research and funding, which can only be accomplished through better cooperation between the public and private sectors.

Commentary

Electrical Systems & 21st Century Threats

by Benjamin Dancer -

One leading researcher shares his insights into the existential threats that the electrical infrastructure faces. He proposes that a superhighway with electrical systems protected at multiple points is not only feasible, but it could help reduce carbon emissions, build electromagnetic resilience, and address major space weather events that could threaten the life and health of human populations.

Resilience

Space Weather & Electrical Grid - GPS, the Weakest Link

by Dana Goward -

Among the many important, yet weak, satellite signals that can be disrupted by space weather, the Global Positioning System (GPS) is undoubtedly the most important and the weakest. Two recent public discussions have highlighted the challenges this poses for the national electrical grid, both today and going forward.

Updates

FDA Issues Final Food Defense Regulation

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finalized a new food safety rule under the landmark, bipartisan FDA Food Safety Modernization Act that will help to prevent wide-scale public health harm by requiring companies in the United States and abroad to take steps to prevent intentional adulteration of the food supply.

Updates

Metagenomics Pathogen Detection Tool Could Change How Infectious Diseases Are Diagnosed

Scientists at the University of Utah, ARUP Laboratories, and IDbyDNA Inc. have developed ultra-fast, meta-genomics analysis software called Taxonomer that dramatically improves the accuracy and speed of pathogen detection. The software analyzes the sequences of nucleic acids, detects pathogens, and profiles a patient's gene expression in a matter of minutes.

Reports

Public Health Service Agencies: Overview and Funding (FY2015-FY2017)

Within the Department of Health and Human Services, eight agencies are designated components of the U.S. Public Health Service. This report provides an overview of each agency, as well as recent trends in the funding of each.

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Updates

CDC Expanding Groundbreaking Disease Identification Tool

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) designed an innovative online tool called MicrobeNet to go beyond common germs like E.coli or influenza to address uncommon germs like Streptobacillus moniliformis and Capnocytophaga. Since 2013, the CDC has helped laboratorians and doctors accurately and rapidly diagnose causes of diseases and save lives.

Reports

2016 National Preparedness Report

The 2016 National Preparedness Report provides all levels of government, the private and nonprofit sectors, and the public, with findings that evaluate core capability performance, key findings in the Prevention, Protection, Mitigation, Response, and Recovery mission areas, and notable examples of preparedness progress over the past five years.

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Updates

Program Will Train First Responders and Hazardous Waste Worker on Infectious Disease Safety

A training program will help approximately 35,000 first responders and workers, whose jobs may expose them to infectious diseases, protect themselves while also minimizing the spread of disease to others. The three-year, $9 million program is being launched by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other federal agencies.

Updates

University of Oklahoma Team Develops New Antibiotic Formulation to Fight MRSA and Other Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria

A University of Oklahoma team of chemists has developed a new antibiotic formulation to fight the sometimes deadly staph infection caused by methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) and other antibiotic-resistant infectious bacteria. The new drug to treat MRSA combines traditional antibiotics approved by the Food and Drug Administration, such as methicillin, with the polymer BPEI.

Updates

Progress Toward National Resiliency: NIST Marks Joplin Tornado 5th Anniversary

The National Institute of Standards and Technology's (NIST) investigation of the 2011 Joplin tornado was the most comprehensive study of a tornado event. Based on its findings, the agency made 16 recommendations for improving: how buildings and shelters are designed, constructed, and maintained in tornado-prone regions; and the emergency communications that warn of imminent threat from tornadoes.

Commentary

Nuclear Proliferation in the Middle East

by Jerome H. Kahan -

Now that the Iran nuclear deal is in effect, it is worth exploring whether this agreement will in fact: (a) constrain Iran's efforts to build nuclear weapons and inhibit nuclear proliferation in the region; or (b) have unintended negative consequences that the United States and its negotiating partners did not or could not foresee.