LANSDOWNE, Va. -- Forty-two leading U. S. scientists and specialists gathered at a November national forum to consider cutting-edge innovations that may defend America's public health and national economy from outbreaks of dangerous zoonotic diseases, the National Center for Foreign Animal and Zoonotic Disease Defense (FAZD Center) announced.
Among those innovations:
-- A "Doc in a Box" on every American kitchen table that detects highly contagious and dangerous zoonotic diseases in people before symptoms appear.
-- Computer-generated "lab animals" that increase the speed and decrease the cost of developing vaccines to protect humans from zoonotic diseases.
-- Software that rapidly analyzes complex data, then displays the results as easily understood graphs, thus freeing researchers to spend more time and resources on developing products to mitigate outbreaks of dangerous zoonotic diseases.
The Forum on Science and Biothreats, held in early November at the Lansdowne Resort, was sponsored by the FAZD Center, a Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence.
Zoonotic diseases attack both humans and animals. The most dangerous of these diseases pose catastrophic risks to U.S. public health and to the nation's $1 trillion agricultural economy.
Speakers presented novel discoveries and techniques from a range of disciplines, including epidemiology, pathology, microbiology, wildlife ecology, mathematics and computer modeling. Specialists in zoonotic disease then responded with "outside the box" discussions on how these concepts may apply to detecting, mitigating and recovering from outbreaks, epidemics and pandemics.
"Discoveries and technologies emerging in any of these disciplines may offer potential breakthroughs for detection, mitigation or recovery from zoonotic outbreaks," said Neville P. Clarke, FAZD Center director. "Our goal was to keep the forum small enough to encourage dynamic interactions between the speakers, panelists and participants. Such interactions often result in the long-term, professional relationships that are essential to developing a national defense against zoonotic diseases."
Participants included leading scientists and scholars from major U.S. universities and national laboratories, state and federal officials, and private sector specialists. Among the universities were Harvard, Georgetown, Johns Hopkins, Columbia, Purdue, Rutgers, Texas A&M and Minnesota. National laboratories included Lawrence Livermore, Los Alamos, Sandia and Pacific Northwest. Also represented were the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Army, Battelle and Pfizer.