Universities in Kansas and Texas will each receive $12 mln for zoonotic disease research. Additionally, Minnesota University will receive about $20 mln for research to improve food safety.
The Department of Homeland Security announced in mid-February that Kansas State University, Texas A&M University, and the University of Minnesota will receive the funding over the next 6 years. The Kansas and Texas universities are lead institutions for the DHS Center of Excellence for Zoonotic and Animal Disease Defense, and the Minnesota school will lead the DHS Center of Excellence for Food Security.
The DHS has 12 centers of excellence, which are university-based research systems designed to improve national security, according to the DHS. They are led by universities, which collaborate with partners from other institutions, government agencies, laboratories, think tanks, and private organizations.
The Zoonotic and Animal Disease Defense center’s research goals are developing vaccines for diseases with “potentially catastrophic public health and economic implications”, developing rapid diagnostic methods to identify such diseases, modeling and simulating the spread and impact of such diseases and management tools, and developing education programs for animal disease defense, DHS information states. The Food Security center’s research goals include providing ways to protect food from risks or attacks, modeling adverse event risks and consequences, and improving strategies for protecting food supplies.