Center for Biodefense and Security Established at UTHSC

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The UT Health Science Center has established the Mid-South Center for Biodefense and Security to coordinate federal, regional and state resources as well as increase support for activities directly impacting homeland security.

The University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) has established the Mid-South Center for Biodefense and Security (MSCBS) to coordinate federal, regional and state resources, as well as increase support for activities directly impacting homeland security.

The center will also support the intellectual and scientific foundation necessary to develop advanced medical biotechnology breakthroughs that will help protect the region and country from select potential agents of bioterrorism and emerging biological threats. The center will serve as a unique model for collaboration between a medical center and a community.

In 2003, the university was awarded funding from the National Institutes of Health to support collaborative biodefense research. This award provided the seed for UTHSC’s biodefense program, which is affiliated with the Southeast Regional Center of Excellence for Emerging Infections and Biodefense, representing a consortium of investigators working to develop the next generation of vaccines, drugs and diagnostic devices for treating dangerous infections.

Dean of the UT College of Medicine, Henry G. Herrod, MD, commented, “The center’s activities will play a key role in attracting biotech and pharmaceutical companies to relocate and/or establish a significant presence in Tennessee. Our aim is to create a hub for industry and manufacturers that will provide the nation with tools to protect against bioterrorism and/or emerging infections. This activity will, in turn, create new, high paying jobs, especially for research and technical staff, thereby providing a major boost to our economy.”

The university’s A.C. Mullins Professor and director of the biodefense research program, Malak Kotb, PhD, will serve as the center’s director. Dr. Kotb has been heavily involved in biodefense efforts on the national level including working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Southeastern Center for Emerging Biological Threats, and several National Institutes of Health biodefense regional centers of excellence across the nation.