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UTMB responds to Senator Hutchison's announcement of a $1.75 million high-containment lab training grant for UTMB

For immediate release: Sept. 13, 2007

GALVESTON, Texas — If the current Defense Appropriations bill passes, UTMB is set to receive $1.75 million to establish a National Biodefense Training Center. A Pilot Training Facility with Mock BSL4 laboratory would be constructed and supporting staff and faculty hired to operate the lab. The purpose of this facility will be to create and use advanced technologies to assess threats and develop countermeasures in order to better defend our country.

Advocating for the inclusion of the training program was U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, a member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. The bill passed the appropriations committee and is recommended without changes for passage in the U.S. Senate.

"We are most appreciative to Senator Hutchison for championing this important training program and to her colleagues for supporting it," said UTMB President David L. Callender. "The appropriation will allow us to train scientists from here and elsewhere to improve the safety and effectiveness of our efforts and to study and manage the threat of serious infectious diseases, and the entire nation will be the winner."

Dr. James LeDuc, associate director for program development for the Galveston National Laboratory, said the appropriation announced by Hutchison "represents a well-recognized need to train scientists and staff to work under high-containment laboratory conditions, and it's wonderful that Senator Hutchison has given UTMB the opportunity to address this need."

Dr. Stanley M. Lemon, principal investigator on the Galveston National Laboratory grant and director of UTMB's Institute for Human Infections and Immunity, also acknowledged the importance of the funding and efforts it will support.

"We are very grateful for Sen. Hutchison's leadership and vision in establishing this new national training center, which will play a critically important role in our efforts to control life-threatening infectious diseases," Lemon said.

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