DHS releases solicitation for biological threat characterization studies

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security recently announced that it is seeking proposals for projects to support the Biological Threat Characterization Project.

The BTCP's goal is to enhance biodefense preparedness within the United States by developing an advanced understanding of the potential impact of a biological attack.

The DHS broad agency announcement says the agency's Chemical and Biological Defense Division is looking for partners to conduct studies and laboratory experimentation in order to address further requirements in biological threat characterization.

"The measures of success are determined by the positive influence that the deliverables have on biological agent threat awareness, prevention of and protection from a biological agent incident, surveillance and detection during a biological incident, and response and recovery from a biological incident," the DHS announcement said.

The information will be used to help the agency determine how to prioritize the development of countermeasures against a biological attack, which include detectors, drugs, vaccines and decontamination technologies.

Given the ever-expanding list of customized potentially dangerous biological agents, DHS said that it is no longer feasible to develop countermeasures for every known pathogen and toxin. An effort must therefore be made to characterize and address multiple agents and biological threat scenarios within classes.

DHS is looking to fund studies that can be used to create more comprehensive risk assessments based on agent storage and production rates, pathogen incubation times, morbidity and mortality rates and recent developments in biotechnology.