The Integrated Research Facility is part of the Office of the Chief Scientist for the Division of Clinical Research in the NIAID Office of the Director.
The mission of the OCSIRF is to manage, coordinate, and facilitate the conduct of emerging infectious disease and biodefense research to develop vaccines, countermeasures, and improved medical outcomes for patients.
The IRF at Fort Detrick in Maryland was created to carry out biodefense research needed to understand the clinical disease processes which correlate with the severity of microbial-induced disease. Central to the core mission of the OCSIRF at Fort Detrick is the use of hospital tools, such as endoscopy, cardiac telemetry monitors, and CT, MRI, SPECT, and PET imaging, to systematically evaluate the pathogenic processes and clinical course of disease in animal models exposed to microbes.
Research emphasis will be placed on high consequence infections requiring high levels of biocontainment: most Category A viral and bacteria pathogens plus newly emerging infectious disease microbes. In addition to addressing scientific questions related to microbes’ basic biology and disease-causing mechanisms—including microbial components that define a pathogen’s life cycle, transmission, virulence, and invasiveness—a key goal is to correlate these findings with clinical test (telemetry and imaging) results. Evaluation of these data, in turn, depends on development of animal models which faithfully replicate the human disease syndromes, including a respiratory route of exposure. This knowledge is crucial to the development of preventative and therapeutic strategies and will not only lead to improved medical outcomes at the hospital bedside but also for public health in general.