In early 2002, NIAID developed a Strategic Plan for Biodefense Research at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). As part of the implementation of the recommendations outlined in the Strategic Plan, NIAID convened two panels of experts to provide advice and guidance on specific areas of research. The first panel prioritized NIAID research plans for the Category A Priority Pathogens. A second group, the NIAID Expert Panel on Immunity and Biodefense, was convened to focus on research related to the innate immune factors important for host protection against potential bioterrorist pathogens (see summary at http://www.niaid.nih.gov/ publications/pdf/biodimmunpan.pdf). The recommendations of these panels have provided valuable guidance in the development of new initiatives and in modifying existing solicitations to respond to research needs in the area of biodefense and emerging infectious diseases. Biodefense research is defined as research to understand organisms that are potential bioterrorism threats and to develop new diagnostics, treatments, and vaccines for use in humans who may become infected. Thus, this research is similar to that for other infectious diseases but with emergence the result of a deliberate release rather than a consequence of natural events.
The NIAID Biodefense Research Agenda for Category B and C Priority Pathogens builds on the Strategic Plan and provides recommendations relevant to the Category B and C priority pathogens. As with the two previous research agendas, this document focuses on the need for basic research on the biology of the microbe, the host response, and basic and applied research aimed at the development of diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines against these agents. In addition, the Agenda addresses the research resources, facilities, and scientific manpower needed to conduct both basic and applied research on these agents.
Because of the number and diversity of the organisms contained in Categories B and C, the document is divided into chapters that include Inhalational Bacteria, ArthropodBorne Viruses, Toxins, Food- and Water-borne Pathogens, and Emerging Infections. These chapters include specific recommendations related to the relevant organisms. The final chapter is a discussion of additional considerations for biodefense that includes recommendations for changes to the NIAID Category A, B, & C list of Priority Pathogens, recommendations on the role of industry in the biodefense research agenda, and research needs related to genetically modified organisms and biodefense.