Cohen’s Support Helps UTHSC Fund Fight Against Infectious Diseases

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Today President George W. Bush signed H.R. 3222, the Department of Defense Appropriations conference report for FY2008, which includes funding for the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC).

Congressman Cohen’s Support Helps UT Health Science Center Fund Fight Against Infectious Diseases

Today President George W. Bush signed H.R. 3222, the Department of Defense Appropriations conference report for FY2008, which includes funding for the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC). The $4 million earmark will be used to purchase high technology pathogen detection equipment.

The equipment will support research at the Regional Biocontainment Laboratory (RBL), currently under construction on the UT-Baptist Research Park site. The funding underwrites basic research of emerging infectious diseases such as streptococcus, multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis, and francisella.

“Congressman Steve Cohen’s support has been crucial and ultimately instrumental in our receiving this financial boon to the RBL project,” said Michael R. Caudle, MD, UTHSC vice chancellor for Health System Affairs. “A 40-year tradition of robust infectious disease research on this campus will take a giant leap forward with the ability to use the Rapid Bio-Pathogen Detection equipment.”

“The UT Health Science Center has an outstanding team of infectious disease investigators who rival any faculty in the country,” noted Interim Chancellor Hershel Wall, MD. “This equipment will create endless opportunities for them to discover drugs, diagnostics and vaccines for dealing with these emerging threats to society.”

“I’m pleased that the funding I sought for the UT RBL equipment technology has come to fruition. I made this appropriation a legislative priority because I know the project will save lives, as well as create jobs and give Memphis a competitive advantage,” commented Congressman Cohen. “The UT Health Science Center is a star in the crown of Memphis, with a dedicated and talented faculty and staff, and I know they will use this funding wisely. This appropriation is a real victory for the Ninth District.”

The UTHSC RBL is one of only 13 regional biocontainment labs in the nation where basic biodefense research is conducted. Scheduled to be completed by the summer of 2008, the RBL is especially designed and constructed to protect the community and researchers from contamination. The state-of-the-art facility will serve as a regional resource for researchers from the public and private sector.