The University Record, March 4, 2002

Public Health opens bioterrorism center

By Colleen Newvine
News and Information Services

Responding to heightened concerns from the public and policy makers, the School of Public Health is creating a bioterrorism preparedness center. The Bioterrorism and Health Preparedness Research and Training Center is designed to bring together faculty from across U-M to collaborate with the Michigan Department of Community Health and other federal, state and municipal agencies to prepare for and prevent the effects of bioterrorism.

The center aims to leverage considerable faculty expertise through such things as research, policy and program development, and training, as well as providing public health expertise for the U-M Health System as it plans for domestic preparedness in the Great Lakes region.

The U-M is home to the only school of public health in the state, and its researchers and practitioners bring a diverse set of skills to the center. Ongoing faculty projects include:

  • Detection of infectious agents and toxins in food and water.

  • Determination of the most efficient use of vaccines, antibiotics and antivirals.

  • Evaluation of methods to communicate information to the public.

  • Development of novel methods of surveillance of health situations.

    Arnold Monto, professor of epidemiology, will serve as director of the center. Monto’s research focuses on infectious diseases and viruses, and that work leads to an understanding of the differences between a viral infection and inhalation anthrax, for example, as well as of the larger health benefits of readying for bioterrorism. The same mechanisms that alert health officials to an anthrax incident could assist in the event of a pandemic, or worldwide, influenza epidemic.

    The U-M School of Public Health has offered its input to state health and policy issues for more than 60 years, ranging from monitoring the effects of PBB in the 1970s to developing the Michigan Public Health Code in use today.

    “The creation of this center and the depth of faculty involvement signals our desire to be the best contributor we can be in efforts to achieve a safe and healthy citizenry,” says Noreen Clark, dean of the School of Public Health.