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Western Regional Center of Excellence for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases Research (WRCE)

The WRCE was established in 2003 in response to NIAID’s call for the creation of multifaceted research, strong infrastructure, and product development activities applying the best basic, translational, and clinical science. The WRCE is a unifying force in Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana for collaborative research on infectious diseases, and over 40 institutions in the region have combined their energy, creativity, and resources to conduct research and to translate their outstanding scientific knowledge into a program that delivers more than the sum of its parts.

A Diagnostic Development Core provides common access to shared technologies, reagents, and animal models to investigators involved in diagnostics development. A Law, Policy, and Ethics Core provides opinions and support for researchers regarding issues that include select agent regulations, animal and human subjects testing, and intellectual property. The WRCE Product Development Working Group provides expertise to facilitate the process for translational development of vaccines and drugs leading to FDA approval. There is an Emergency Preparedness plan in place so that the WRCE may assist first responders in the event of a naturally occurring outbreak or bioterror event.

A wealth of scientific expertise on biothreat agents, emerging infectious diseases, and contemporary biomedical technology is applied to establishing the scientific basis and translating it through major research projects, developmental research projects, and career development projects.

Three themes form the pillars of the WRCE scientific portfolio, and include platforms for multiplexed diagnostics for Category A-C agents and emerging agents (Theme 1), vaccine development for arboviral and emerging viral diseases (Theme 2), and vaccine development for diseases caused by intracellular bacteria (Theme 3).

The scientific program includes: (1) advanced diagnostic methods for a multitude of Category A-C agents employing microretroreflectors, lateral flow microarrays, protein-DNA chimeras, and molecular recognition sensors; and (2) the development of vaccines against alphaviruses, including chikungunya virus; Ebola virus; Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus; severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome virus; Burkholderia spp.; Brucella melitensis; Francisella tularensis; Coxiella burnetii; and Rickettsia prowazekii.

A consistently strong spirit of cooperation among traditionally competing institutions has established an interlocking network of projects, cores, and administration. The management of this network of interactive research projects and core resource facilities is executed under a comprehensive administrative plan, and is guided by the 15-member Steering Committee, the primary scientific advisory body of the WRCE. Monthly meetings with theme participants are designed to foster interactions and exchanges of ideas, and to promote the host–pathogen biology-based development of novel vaccines and diagnostics.

participating institutiions

Participating Institutions:
Texas:
Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas
INCELL Corporation, LLC, San Antonio, Texas
Rice University, Houston, Texas
San Antonio Metro Health District, San Antonio, Texas
Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research, Southwest National Primate Research Center, San Antonio, Texas
Texas A&M University, College of Veterinary Medicine, College Station, Texas
Texas A&M University System Health Science Center, College Station, Texas
Texas A&M University System Health Science Center, Houston, Texas
Texas Dept. of State Health Services, Austin, Texas
Texas Southern University, Houston, Texas
Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas
University of Houston, Houston, Texas
University of the Incarnate Word, San Antonio, Texas
University of North Texas Health Science Center, Fort Worth, Texas
University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas
University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College, Brownsville, Texas
University of Texas at Dallas, Dallas, Texas
University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, Texas
University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas
University of Texas at Tyler, Tyler, Texas
University of Texas Health Center at Tyler, Tyler, Texas
University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Houston, Texas
University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas
University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, Dallas, Texas
New Mexico:
Mesa Tech International, Inc., Los Alamos, New Mexico
Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute, Albuquerque, New Mexico
New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, New Mexico
New Mexico Dept. of Health, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Sandia National Laboratory, Albuquerque, New Mexico
University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Louisiana:
Louisiana Dept. of Health, New Orleans, Louisiana
Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, New Orleans, Louisiana
Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, Shreveport, Louisiana
Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Louisiana Tech University, Ruston, Louisiana
Research Institute for Children, New Orleans, Louisiana
Tulane University Health Sciences Center, Tulane National Primate Research Center, Covington and New Orleans, Louisiana
Oklahoma:
Oklahoma State Dept. of Health, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Oklahoma
University of Oklahoma Health Science Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Arkansas:
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, Arkansas
Arkansas Dept. of Health, Little Rock, Arkansas
Other Institutions Outside the Region:
Arizona State University, Biodesign Institute, Tempe, Arizona
Molecular Sciences Institute, Berkeley, California
Sandia National Laboratory, Livermore, California
University of Exeter, Devon, UK
Central Veterinary Institute of Wageningen University Research, Lelystad, The Netherlands