Drug Screening—Integrated Research Facility at Fort Detrick

The drug screening team at the Integrated Research Facility at Fort Detrick (IRF‑Frederick) can test and characterize the antiviral activity of novel compounds, drugs, and antibodies against multiple viruses in multiple cell lines under a variety of conditions. Compounds are evaluated in cell-based assays for inhibition of viral replication and reduction of virus yields, plaques, or cytopathic effect. In addition, recombinant reporter gene viruses are available as tools for antiviral screening.

Main Areas of Focus

The drug screening laboratory supports the testing of compounds for the potential treatment of infections with high-consequence pathogens and reemerging viruses of significant public health concern. The compounds are tested in cell-based assays, and the resulting data are used to make decisions if and how to move forward with preclinical studies in animal models of infection. In addition, scientists in the drug screening laboratory have expertise in developing and implementing novel assays for specific viruses of interest.

Capabilities and Specialized Equipment

  • Virus-specific antibodies for detection of infected cells
  • Recombinant reporter gene viruses
  • Virus yield reduction assay
  • Plaque reduction assay
  • Cytopathic effect (CPE) reduction assay
  • Screening assays for
    • SARS CoV-2
    • Ebola virus (EBOV)
    • Marburg virus (MARV)
    • Lassa virus (LASV)
    • Junín virus (JUNV)
    • Guanarito virus (GTOV)
    • Machupo virus (MACV)
    • Nipah virus (NiV)
    • Human respiratory syncytial virus (HRSV)
    • Vaccinia virus (VACV): VACV-GFP
    • Cowpox virus (CPXV): CPXV-GFP
    • Monkeypox virus (MPXV): MPXV-GFP
    • Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV)
  • Chemiluminescence: Tecan M1000 or Spark 20M plate reader
  • Fluorescence: Tecan M1000 or Spark 20M plate reader
  • Fluorescence: high-content imaging system, Operetta


All procedures are well-documented and adhere to standard operating procedures (SOPs), methods, or study-approved plans and agreements.

Collaboration Opportunities

  • Studies relevant to human disease
  • Use of surrogate systems to test clinical hypotheses
  • Use of biological systems to answer questions regarding disease pathogenesis and strategies for intervention including antimicrobials, vaccines, and other countermeasures
  • Developing and incorporating cutting-edge technologies to understand infectious diseases

Read more about how to work with the IRF-Frederick.


Integrated Research Facility at Fort Detrick (IRF-Frederick)

Contact Information

Mike Holbrook, Ph.D.
Principal Scientist and Director of Biocontainment (Contractor)