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December 02, 2022

Senators, Trone file bills to support Fort Detrick biodefense center

Credit: Frederick News-Post, Ryan Marshall

Maryland’s two U.S. senators and a local congressman have filed legislation to make a local laboratory at Fort Detrick a central facility in handling biological threats in the country.

Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and U.S. Rep. David Trone have introduced a bill that would authorize the continued operations of the National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center at Frederick’s Fort Detrick, Trone’s office announced Friday.

The bill would designate the center as the “lead federal facility dedicated to defending the United States against biological threats.”

According to the Department of Homeland Security, the center deals with intelligence assessments, preparedness planning, response, emerging threats, and bioforensic analysis.

Created in 2004, the center and its more than 150 employees “have fulfilled critical shortfalls in our scientific knowledge of biological agents needed to defend the public from acts of terrorism,” according to the department’s website.

The center includes two parts.

The National Bioforensic Analysis Center does technical analyses for federal law enforcement investigations. The National Biological Threat Characterization Center conducts experiments and studies to better understand biological vulnerabilities and hazards.

A spokesman for the center referred comment Friday to the legislators’ offices.

In the release, Trone said the center has let some of the country’s best innovators fight potential biological threats to the country’s security.

Cardin said the biological and chemical threats to the country continue to grow, and securing the center’s long-term future will make sure that the country can stay ahead of those threats.

Van Hollen said the COVID-19 pandemic has shown the need for a robust biodefense, and the workers at the NBACC are at the forefront of handling the threat.