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Expanded Biodefense Role for the National Institutes of Health

NCJ Number
Anthony Fauci M.D.
Date Published
April 2002
5 pages
This paper considers the increased funding and expanded role for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), in preparing for an expanded "biodefense" role.

The President's Budget for fiscal year 2003 contains $4 billion for the NIAID, a $1.5 billion increase over the 2002 allocation and the largest single increase for an Institute in the history of the NIH. The NIAID budget includes $1.7 billion for defending against bioterrorism. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of NIAID, states that to defend against bioterrorism, the Institute is focusing on major threats, classed as category "A" agents, i.e., smallpox, anthrax, tularemia, plague, botulism toxin, and hemorrhagic fever viruses; it is also looking at category "B" and "C" agents, such as foodborne E. coli and staphylococcus. The planned effort will be generic to virtually all microbes that might be used in bioterrorism. The NIAID will continue its cooperation with the Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, but with new attention to cooperation with the biodefense command. Dr. Fauci states that the goal within the next 20 years is to have "bug to drug" within 24 hours. This would meet the challenge of genetically engineered bioagents. Someone might genetically engineer a microbe and make it resistant to the standard treatment, but if that trait is identified, another drug does not have to be created to counter it. Dr. Fauci discusses the issue of smallpox and some of the issues that must be addressed in the area of large-scale vaccination. Issues in the area of local and State public health systems are also discussed, along with research and information dissemination.