New program seeks to improve biosurveillance in the Korean Peninsula

The Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical and Biological Defense is working with the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center to develop a new advanced technology demonstration that could monitor biological agents on the Korean Peninsula.

Since 2007, biosurvellance has been a national priority. At that time, Homeland Security Presidential Directive-21 formalized a policy that threats could come in many forms, including naturally occurring diseases.

The Joint USFK Portal and Integrated Threat Recognition program is a four part project that will explore biological detection technologies.

"This is a Department of Defense flagship program for how biosurveillance will manifest itself," Peter Emanuel, JUPITR ATD leader and division chief of ECBC's Resarch and Technology Directorate's BioSciences Division, said. "JUPITR is aggressively pushing technology to the very limit of what we think it can do to demonstrate in the field what biosurveillance can look like."

JUPITR has four legs designed to support the overall goal. The first leg will use an information portal as a web management tool for health surveillance, the second leg will work with scientists on the Korean peninsula to build up their lab capabilities, the third leg will pit different biological detectors against each other and the fourth leg will explore early warning concepts.

"Right now, what we have is akin to a big chess board where all the pieces were there, they just weren't working together," Emanuel said. "When you recognize the strength and weakness of each piece on the chess board and move them in concert toward a specific aim, you have a greater chance of achieving your goal. This really is an exciting time for the field biosurveillance."