News of the WeekBIODEFENSE

Army Bans Pathogen Work at Lab After Security Lapse

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Science  08 May 2009:
Vol. 324, Issue 5928, pp. 707
DOI: 10.1126/science.324_707

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Late last year, the U.S. Army took the unprecedented step of banning one of its premier biodefense labs from conducting any work involving dangerous pathogens. The lab is part of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP) in Washington, D.C. The Army and AFIP decline to cite the specific reasons behind the 2 December decision, which has not been publicly announced. The decision has left some two dozen researchers in AFIP's microbiology division unable to continue high-profile research projects such as developing a vaccine against brucellosis and testing ways to rapidly detect biowarfare agents. They have been reassigned to other projects that don't involve dangerous pathogens, or select agents.