Biodefense and Related Programs

Why Are Biodefense And Related Programs a Priority for NIAID?

After the events of September 11, 2001, and the subsequent anthrax mailings, biodefense became an important element of the NIAID mission. In 2003, NIAID was assigned lead responsibility within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for civilian biodefense research with a focus on research and early development of medical countermeasures against terrorist threats from infectious diseases and radiation exposure. NIAID later assumed responsibility for coordinating the NIH‐wide effort to develop medical countermeasures against chemical threats to the civilian population.

How Is NIAID Addressing This Critical Topic?

NIAID supports research and early development of medical countermeasures against terrorist threats from infectious diseases, radiation exposure and chemical threats to the civilian population. Because new potentially deadly pathogens, such as avian influenza, may be naturally occurring as well as deliberately introduced by terrorists, NIAID’s biodefense research is integrated into its larger emerging and re‐emerging infectious diseases portfolio. While NIAID continues to focus on developing drugs, vaccines, and diagnostics for these disease agents, the research focus has evolved from the traditional “one bug–one drug” approach to a more flexible strategy using sophisticated genomic and proteomic platforms focused on developing broad‐spectrum therapies effective against entire classes of pathogens.

Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases

NIAID conducts and supports research to better understand viruses, bacteria, and other infectious agents that cause diseases of public health concern. This research provides the foundation for developing medical products and strategies to diagnose, treat, and prevent a wide range of infectious diseases. Read more about NIAID research on biodefense and emerging infectious diseases.

Radiation and Nuclear Countermeasures Program

NIAID is responsible for guiding all activities of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the development of a medical countermeasures program against radiological and nuclear threats. This plan promotes research that will lead to new and effective medical countermeasures to assess, diagnose, and care for civilians exposed to radiation and mitigate the harmful effects of such exposure. Read more about NIAID radiation and nuclear countermeasures program.

Medical Countermeasures Against Chemical Threats (Chemical Countermeasures)

NIAID serves as the main coordinating and implementation biodefense research institute addressing chemical threats under the Medical Chemical Countermeasures Against Chemical Threats Program. The program takes into account the ongoing efforts and partnerships with other federal agencies, academia, and industry. The overall goal of the program is to integrate cutting-edge research with the latest technological advances in science and medicine for a more rapid and effective response during an emergency. Learn about NIAID involvement in the chemical countermeasures program.

Content last reviewed on July 11, 2016