Background and Purpose
The Integrated Research Facility at Fort Detrick (IRF-Frederick) is situated within the National Interagency Confederation for Biomedical Research (NICBR), a group of federal biomedical research facilities located on the National Interagency Biodefense Campus (NIBC) at Fort Detrick, in Frederick, Maryland.
The global emergence of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), highly virulent H5N1 avian influenza, and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), along with the reemergence of high‑consequence disease caused by Ebola, Marburg, and Lassa viruses, alerted the public to the need for a comprehensive strategy to defend against biological threats with potentially catastrophic consequences. Scientists at the IRF-Frederick focus on collaborative studies with scientists from government, industry, and academia for developing prevention and treatment options directly relevant to human diseases—whether they emerge naturally or are deliberately introduced. The IRF-Frederick is able to quickly respond to novel threats, such as COVID-19, with unique animal modeling and capabilities that aid in the advancement of therapeutic drugs, vaccines, and other medical products designed to improve health outcomes for patients. The emergence of SARS-CoV-2, the etiologic agent of COVID-19, has now made the predicted need an urgent reality. Read about COVID-19 research at the IRF-Frederick.
Mitigate the impact of high-consequence infectious disease threats in humans
Manage, coordinate, and facilitate the conduct of research on emerging infectious diseases and biodefense pathogens to develop medical countermeasures and improved medical outcomes for patients
Global Collaboration and Response
The overseas response team was established to confront the 2013–2016 Ebola virus disease outbreak. This global health crisis required an unprecedented level of engagement from laboratories with maximum‑containment capabilities. As part of these efforts, scientists at the IRF-Frederick partnered with colleagues from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to establish the first diagnostic capabilities for Ebola virus disease in Liberia and to train members of the Liberian National Laboratory to independently test for Ebola virus. Team members from the IRF-Frederick worked alongside DoD and Liberian colleagues from April 2014 until Liberia was declared free of Ebola virus disease in 2016.
The team is successfully building capacity overseas while facilitating critical public-health research, exemplifying the IRF-Frederick mission and meeting NIAID goals. In addition, through these efforts, the IRF-Frederick maintains a trained workforce capable of responding to public-health emergencies in a multitude of environments. Read more about outbreak response at the IRF-Frederick.
The IRF-Frederick is a national resource for both NIH research scientists and independent investigators. The IRF-Frederick incorporates NIH expertise and resources to manage research and leverages state‑of‑the‑art tools and equipment culminating in unique capabilities (clinical imaging, laboratory diagnostics, physiologic telemetry, maximum‑containment research, aerosol science, and clinical and scientific expertise). These capabilities facilitate the development of sophisticated animal models that permit researchers to ask and answer questions that cannot be addressed with historical approaches. The study of disease and intervention in advanced animal models is at the core of the IRF‑Frederick’s portfolio and aligns with its bi‑directional mission as well as NIAID goals. Areas of focus include the following:
- Studies relevant to human disease
- Surrogate systems to test clinical hypotheses
- Biological systems to answer questions regarding disease pathogenesis and strategies for intervention including therapeutics, vaccines, and other medical countermeasures
- Development of animal models, leveraging the capabilities of the IRF-Frederick