Married researchers bolstering army's biothreat detection program

A married couple, both of whom are U.S. Army research biologists, is working to bolster the ability of soldiers to identify, detect and protect against potentially deadly biological threat agents.

Mark and Jody Gostomski's research at the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center may help to develop technologies to improve the safety of soldiers on the front lines. Mark works with dangerous organisms in a Biosafety Level 3 lab while Jody manages a project supplying genomic material for the Critical Reagents Program.

Mark's research will help to streamline the biodetection process by validating a DNA extraction kit to replace two separate kits. Jody's project will provide reference materials for the use in the optimization and development of biological detection technologies. The work of both scientists will ultimately help soldiers.

"It's easy to lose sight of the big picture. We do our job, and a lot of times we don't think about who it impacts," Mark Gostomski said. "The work we do is ultimately for the soldier. The project I'm working on will help the soldiers rapidly identify biothreat agents using the Joint Biological Agent Identification and Identification System. They can find a sample in the field (and) process it through this kit in a matter of minutes. Within an hour, they have their data."

The couple met in 2004 when Jody joined ECBC and Mark served as one of her mentors. They married in May.

"What I really like about working with Mark is the reason that he and I became such good friends before we got married," Jody Gostomski said. "He is just a great sounding board. He is always the person I would go to when I had issues in the laboratory. If I had questions or needed help troubleshooting something, he was always my go-to guy. He always resolved my problems."