Updates

DHS Announces Grant Allocations for Fiscal Year 2018 Preparedness Grants

As part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) ongoing efforts to support state, local, tribal, and territorial partners, Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen announced final allocations of $345 million for six Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 DHS competitive preparedness grant programs. The FY 2018 preparedness grants focus on the nation’s highest risk areas, and law enforcement and terrorism prevention activities.

Handheld Genomic Sequencer Shows Promise in Field Demo

The MinION, a handheld genomic sequencer, showed promise in a recent field demonstration as it continues testing at the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command Chemical & Biological Center. Not only can the MinION detect known threats, it can sequence unknown threats, too. These unknown biothreats include emerging and genetically modified pathogens.

A Milestone for Forecasting Earthquake Hazards

Earthquakes pose a profound danger to people and cities worldwide, but with the right hazard-mitigation efforts, from stricter building requirements to careful zoning, the potential for catastrophic collapses of roads and buildings and loss of human lives can be limited. In a milestone for earthquake forecasting, researchers have come up with a physics-based model that marks a turning point in earthquake forecasting.

NIST Details Steps to Keep Buildings Functioning After Natural Hazards

Keeping structures operational after an earthquake, hurricane, tornado, or other natural hazard could become more likely with improved standards and codes for the construction of residential and commercial buildings, according to a new report recently delivered to the U.S. Congress by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

Preparedness Month 2018

Every September, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) along with its partners supports emergency preparedness efforts and encourages Americans to take action before, during, and after an emergency. This year, the CDC is highlighting Prepare Your Health. Each week focuses on the roles individuals, state and local public health, and CDC play in creating resilient health communities.

USDA Forest Service Announces New Strategy for Improving Forest Conditions

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service announced a new strategy for managing catastrophic wildfires and the impacts of invasive species, drought, and insect and disease epidemics. A new report outlines the Forest Service’s plans to work more closely with states to identify landscape-scale priorities for targeted treatments in areas with the highest payoffs.

New Behavioral Health Resources Available for First Responders

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has developed new resources and materials with significant input from first responders. Their new, online training course addresses occupational stressors; mental health and substance use issues including depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, suicidality, and alcohol use; resilience; and healthy coping mechanisms including demonstrations of stress management techniques.

Preparing for Chemical Attacks With Improved Computer Models

Kiran Bhaganagar, from The University of Texas at San Antonio, and her team from Laboratory of Turbulence Sensing and Intelligence Systems, used computer models to replicate the dispersal of chemical gas from the April 4, 2017 chemical weapons attack in northwest Syria. The accuracy of her simulations showed the ability to capture real world conditions despite a scarcity of information.

Biological Engineers Discover New Antibiotic Candidates

The human body produces many antimicrobial peptides that help the immune system fend off infection. Scientists hoping to harness these peptides as potential antibiotics have now discovered that other peptides in the human body can also have potent antimicrobial effects, expanding the pool of new antibiotic candidates.

New Drug Strikes Nerve Agent

Nerve agent assaults are becoming more common. Although medical countermeasures exist to sustain life after nerve agent exposure, the risk of brain damage, behavioral, and neurological disorders persist. The Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s Chemical and Biological Technologies Department has handed over development of Tezampanel, a new drug to counteract the long-term impacts of nerve agent poisoning to the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, enabling warfighters to recover.