Army may downsize planned advanced biodefense research center

The U.S. Army may downsize its plans for an advanced biodefense research center scheduled to open at Ft. Detrick, Maryland, in 2018.

The Medical Countermeasures Test and Evaluation Facility will help push biodefense-related vaccines through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval process, according to The project was fast-tracked by the federal government because of a need for advanced research testing space, particularly for advanced animal testing.

The U.S. Army, however, recently discovered that the backlog of FDA applications for biodefense-related vaccines that cannot be tested on humans is much less than anticipated. In 2007 and 2009, it was predicted that there would be 30 products waiting for advanced testing in 2011. There are only closer to 20.

George Ludwig, deputy principal assistant for research and technology at the U.S. Army Medical Research and Material Command, said government financial constraints are pushing the MRMC to reevaluate the capabilities of current facilities.

"Let's make sure we're not building a facility that's larger than we need," Ludwig said, reports.

The MRMC intends to have its recommendations ready as early as this October. They could include building a smaller facility than the 492,000 square foot building originally planned for the north end of Ft. Detrick’s National Interagency BioDefense Campus.