University of Nebraska Medical Center

Our Expertise

The Global Center for Health Security is a culmination of 20 years of persistence, planning, and training at UNMC to build emergency preparedness capacity. 

The Nebraska Public Health Laboratory was established at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in 1997 through a cooperative agreement between the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services and Nebraska Medicine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provided grant funding for testing of bio-threat and chemical agents.

Two decades of emergency preparedness

In the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, UNMC was among several entities nationwide to receive federal funding for bioterrorism preparedness. In 2004, UNMC, in conjunction with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, and Nebraska Medicine, began planning the Nebraska Biocontainment Unit. It opened in 2005, as the largest such unit in the nation, set up to handle highly contagious and deadly infectious conditions, including: SARS, smallpox, plague, Ebola virus disease and other viral hemorrhagic fevers.


Why Nebraska?

 Historical Timeline


The U.S. Department of State asked the Nebraska Biocontainment Unit to care for deployed Americans with Ebola. Two patients were safely and successfully treated and released; a third arrived gravely ill, and died after two days of treatment. By late 2014, the Nebraska Ebola Method for safely caring for patients with infectious pathogens, is made available as an online course and resource, for the public and for clinicians. The team also offered Center for Disease Control and Prevention courses on campus.

The team was praised nationally, including by President Barack Obama. “The Ebola Fighters” were named Midlanders of the Year by the Omaha World-Herald newspaper.


Nebraska teamed up with Emory University in Atlanta and Bellevue Hospital Center in New York City, on a $12 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to establish and co-lead the nation's National Ebola Training and Education Center , now known as National Emerging Special Pathogens Training and Education Center (NETEC). 


The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded nearly $20 million to UNMC and Nebraska Medicine to develop a national Training, Simulation and Quarantine Center (TSQC). 


UNMC and Nebraska Medicine established the Global Center for Health Security as the umbrella entity to oversee the entirety of its biopreparedness efforts. The Global Center for Health Security globally focuses on clinical care and operations, driving innovations in research and development, and training and education. 


UNMC’s Dr. Edwin G. & Dorothy Balbach Davis Global Center, which houses the Training, Simulation & Quarantine Center (TSQC) with state-of-the-art quarantine facilities, clinical simulation infrastructure and training lab opened. 


The National Quarantine Unit and the Nebraska Biocontainment Unit were activated during the COVID-19 outbreak, working closely with federal partners. In February,  57 Americans who had been working in Wuhan, China and 13 passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan were evacuated and transported to Nebraska. From then on, the Global Center and UNMC's College of Public Health have partnered together to develop training and resource materials specific to the COVID-19 global pandemic.



In September, the GCHS launched the Transmission newsletter, a curated weekly wrap-up of timely, relevant news and data focused on global health security. The newsletter is curated and produced by Claudinne Miller, a former Department of Defense intelligence analyst who has for years produced reports to top-level U.S. government leadership and international public health, academic, and government leaders about past outbreaks like H5N1, H1N1, Ebola, and COVID. Miller has an extensive background as an intelligence analyst with experience in the U.S. Intelligence Community and the U.S. Department of Defense.

In October, the GCHS launched the "Never Again: Pandemic Readiness" Summit Series. This summit series brings together experts, academicians, and business professionals to discuss our response to date and, identify key areas for improvement, and explore opportunities for public-private partnership to prevent similar results in future pandemics. 


In January, the GCHS hosted its second chapter of the Never Again: Pandemic Readiness Summit Series, which hosted Dr. Jeremy Farrar, MBBS, DPhil, a world-renowned epidemiologist and clinical scientist and a panel of emergency preparedness and response and highly infectious contagious disease experts. 

The GCHS transitioned to Academic Affairs and restructured its leadership team

The GCHS continued to monitor current health emergencies including COVID-19, Ebola-Sudan virus disease, HPAI H5N1, MPox, and Marburg virus disease. 

GCHS Associate Director of International Programs and Innovation James Lawler, MD, MPH, FIDSA continued to provide biweekly updates on COVID-19 and emerging pathogens. To watch the video recordings, click here. 

Although operational since 2019, the TSQC ribbon cutting ceremony was held in Sept. 2023. 




In the past five years, the Global Center for Health Security has: 

  • Received $122.6 million in extramural training and research funding
  • Established the Center for Sustainment of Trauma Readiness Skills (C-STARS) Omaha, a collaboration with the Air Force Research Laboratory’s School of Aerospace Medicine
  • Published over 150 peer reviewed articles advancing science, training, and practice
  • Produced scientific knowledge that informed global, national, and local COVID-19 responses, including guidance to the White House National Security Council
  • Developed multiple global and national networks with peer institutions and assist and advise international health responses in locations such as Japan, Nigeria, Singapore, South Korea, Germany, and China
  • Provided risk mitigation and pandemic navigation for a multiple sectors (meat packing facilities, public/private schools, long-term care facilities, government agencies, shelters, correctional facilities, financial institutions, insurance agencies, private companies and hospitality industries)
  • Launched international response teams to assist in multiple health emergency response operations, including in Nigeria, Uganda and Japan
  • Launched Biodefense and Health Security graduate program


A Look Back: News Coverage of 2014-15 Ebola Outbreak