The University of Maryland School of Medicine will lead a multischool effort with 16 research institutions to develop vaccines to protect against bioterroism. The Middle Atlantic region will receive a 5-year, $42-million grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Aside from creating vaccines to protect against anthrax, smallpox, and West Nile virus, they will study antibodies that could produce short-term protection. The regional researchers will study viruses that cause hemorrhagic fevers (eg, Ebola and Marburg viruses), as well as targeting Escherichia coli and Shigella. Also, they will design better diagnostic tests and needle-free vaccinations for fast response to a biological attack or infectious disease outbreak.
?The events of 9-11 [in 2001] and the anthrax threats that followed made it clear that there are nefarious people out there,? said Myron M. Levine, MD, who is the regional leader. ?We have also come to realize that we are extremely vulnerable and to a great extent unprepared for biological attacks. It is crucial for us to develop preventive vaccines to protect ourselves.?