About the Integrated Research Facility at Fort Detrick

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 IRF-Frederick focuses on collaborative studies with national and international scientists from government, industry, and academia for developing prevention and treatment options directly relevant to human diseases—whether pathogens emerge naturally or are deliberately introduced. The global emergence of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), highly virulent H5N1 avian influenza, and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and the reemergence of high-consequence diseases caused by Ebola, Marburg, Nipah, and Lassa viruses highlight the need for defense against biological threats with potentially catastrophic consequences. The emergence of SARS-CoV-2, the etiologic agent of COVID-19, has now made the predicted need an urgent reality. The IRF-Frederick can 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. Read about COVID-19 research at the IRF-Frederick.

IRF-Frederick's Vision

A world in which the integration of basic and clinical sciences has eradicated the threat of deadly viruses

IRF-Frederick's Mission

To serve as a responsive and collaborative resource that facilitates multidisciplinary research to understand, treat, prevent, and eradicate diseases caused by novel, emerging, and highly virulent viruses 

IRF-Strategic Plan

The IRF-Frederick has developed a strategic plan that will maximize its ability to perform high-quality collaborative research that is clinically relevant and that fully takes advantage of its unique capabilities. Read the IRF-Frederick Strategic Plan.

Global Collaboration and Response

The Clinical Studies Support Team (CSST) was first established to support on-site research efforts in Western Africa during the 2013–2016 Ebola virus disease (EVD) 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 EVD in Liberia and to train members of the Liberian National Laboratory to independently test for Ebola virus. IRF-Frederick specialists directly enabled the largest natural history study of African EVD survivors, the PALM trial. 

Recently, the CSST has taken on a critical role in the randomized clinical trial to control or contain the spread of monkeypox in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In addition, the CSST provides continuous training and implementation of assays that will lead to sustainable in-country capabilities in a multitude of environments. Read more about the Clinical Studies Support Team at the IRF-Frederick.

Research Capabilities

The IRF-Frederick is a resource for both NIH research scientists and independent investigators. The IRF-Frederick incorporates NIH expertise to perform world-class maximum-containment research. Researchers use well-characterized animal models of human diseases to ask and answer questions that cannot be addressed with classical approaches. The study of disease pathogenesis and intervention strategies is at the core of the IRF Frederick’s portfolio. Leveraging the capabilities of the IRF-Frederick, areas of focus include:

  • Establishment and assessment of disease progression in animal models using diverse medical and optical imaging modalities
  • Refinement of established small and large animal models
  • Maximum containment (biosafety level 4 [BSL-4]) and animal maximum containment (ABSL-4) studies relevant to human disease
  •  Establishment and refinement of biological systems, including state-of-the-art 3D and organ-on-chip ex vivo 
  • Studies that examine therapeutics, vaccines, and other medical countermeasures

Supporting the NIAID Mission

As the U.S. government’s lead institute for science and research for infectious diseases, NIAID’s purpose is to support basic and applied research and product development against biological threats. As a part of NIAID, the IRF-Frederick leverages technologies and collaborative resources to better understand, treat, and ultimately prevent diseases from high-consequence viral pathogens. Read more about the NIAID mission. Read more about NIAID’s role in research.

Resources for Researchers

The IRF-Frederick has the following capabilities and collaborative research support opportunities available to internal (NIAID) and extramural researchers. Contact information is included, so researchers can reach out to someone to guide them through the process.

Perform a keyword search of opportunities offered by the IRF-Frederick.

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