LOUISVILLE, Ky. – U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell and U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Public Health Emergency Preparedness Jerry Hauer announced today that the University of Louisville Center for the Deterrence of Biowarfare and Bioterrorism has been named one of seven specialty centers for public health preparedness by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Louisville is unique in its resources and capabilities to research and prepare for a terror- related biological disaster,” Hauer said. “The center’s faculty expertise ranges from identifying and developing vaccines against potential bioterrorism organisms to training emergency personnel to properly respond to an attack.”
The Center for the Deterrence of Biowarfare and Bioterrorism at U of L was formalized in 2001 after anthrax scares in Florida and Washington. McConnell helped secure the center’s initial $1.5 million funding through the 2002 Labor, HHS and Education appropriation to the CDC.
“CDC’s designation of U of L as a specialty center for public health preparedness means that the school’s talented researchers will be on the front lines in protecting our communities,” McConnell said. “I was proud to secure federal funds for this initiative and look forward to working with U of L and CDC to enhance our homeland security.
Five of the center’s faculty -co-directors Ron Atlas and Rick Clover and fellow faculty members Paul McKinney, Bill Smock and Jim Snyder – play a significant role nationally in bioterrorism and biowarfare issues. Each serves on a national advisory council to the federal government.
Since the center’s inception last year, more than 1,000 physicians, nurses, emergency response personnel, medical students and private citizens have received training to respond to a bioterror attack. The center is also beginning epidemiological and communications research to ensure a quick regional response to potential terror-induced epidemics.
Following the news briefing, members of the center’s team used standardized patients (actors) and medical simulators (computerized mannequins) to demonstrate symptoms of both cutaneous and inhalation anthrax. Standardized patients and the simulators are both key elements of the center’s education program.