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University of Nebraska Medical Center

Programs

We use our expertise to fight Highly Hazardous Communicable Diseases, and creating a network to prepare for and respond to high-consequence infections. 

This work includes a clinical trials network and rapid exchange of information during international pandemics, as well as improving the treatment and survival of sepsis in Africa and Asia. Whether through on-the-ground training or collaborations on life-saving research, the Global Center for Health Security's research programs are making a difference – for right now and for future generations. 

Our programs include collaborations with other academic health centers, the federal government, and projects around the world, to include grants, networks and collaborators,   external partners. In addition, internal programs and projects funded and/or led by our GCHS LeadershipGCHS Scholars . Take a look below to learn more about our program partners. 

 

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Core Capabilities

Emerging Pathogens Lab

The UNMC Emerging Pathogens Laboratory (EPL) is a CLIA-certified, high-complexity clinical laboratory that bridges novel infectious disease diagnostic development with patient- and community-centered implementation strategies. The EPL collaborates with partners in the community, public health, academia, industry, and government sectors to support distributed and equitable access to high-quality infectious disease testing and infectious disease medical countermeasures clinical research. In response to COVID-19, the EPL developed one of the first SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic assays in the U.S. to support patient care, clinical research, and surveillance programs for public schools, essential workforce members, and tribal community partners.

Nebraska Quarantine Unit

The NQU at UNMC/GCHS is the only federally funded resource of its kind; it is specifically designed to provide first-class quarantine and isolation care to individuals exposed to highly hazardous communicable diseases. Its 20 rooms employ individual negative air pressure systems, are single occupancy with en suite bathroom facilities, and contain exercise equipment and Wifi connectivity for patients requiring longer stays.

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Nebraska Biocontainment Unit

As the RESPTC for the Region VII area, the Nebraska Biocontainment Unit is prepared to care for patients with highly hazardous communicable infectious diseases and has committed to sharing our knowledge and expertise by providing educational offerings. The education will be delivered in multiple formats such as courses, webinars, videos, and zoom conversations with experts on relevant topics.

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Deployable Teams

The GCHS maintains the ability to rapidly staff and deploy teams of technical experts responsive to the needs of response organizations, federal partners, and international non-governmental organizations. We focus on agile, forward-leaning, advanced teams that can meet the subject matter or operational need of hazards. Teams have been employed to a myriad of technical areas including decontamination, PPE, research, emergency management, and special pathogens response.

Core Programs

National Infection Control Strengthening (NICS)

Funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the University Nebraska Medical Center, in partnership with Nebraska Medicine, was selected as an innovation partner as part of Project Firstline with a focus on strengthening infection prevention and control programs in healthcare facilities in underserved areas to develop innovative programs, services, and product development strategies to strengthen IPC nationally and globally.

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Strengthening Healthcare Infection Prevention and Control (SHIPC)

Funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the University of Nebraska Medical Center, in partnership with Nebraska Medicine, was selected as part of the competitive application process to accelerate work initiated with the original NICS award. SHIPC continues our focus on targeting innovation to vulnerable aspects of our healthcare system that face persistent challenges in infection control outcomes.

National Emerging Special Pathogens Training and Education Center (NETEC)

NETEC's mission is to set the gold standard for special pathogen preparedness and response across health systems in the U.S. with the goals of driving best practices, closing knowledge gaps, and developing innovative resources. Over the past two years, NETEC has initiated work to redefine the tiered structure nationally through the National Special Pathogens System of Care (NSPS).

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Region VII Disaster Health Response Ecosystem (R7DHRE)

The goal of this project is a flexible, self-organizing R7DHRE that provides a grassroots readiness network during disasters, and includes the following specialty teams: behavioral health, biological, burn, chemical, pediatric, radiological, and trauma. This is one of two demonstration projects nationwide charged by the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR).

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Region VII Emerging Special Pathogen Treatment Center (RESPTC)

Since its inception in 2005, the Nebraska Biocontainment Unit (NBU) has led the nation in special pathogen preparedness and response. Today, as the Regional Emerging Special Pathogens Treatment Center, for HHS Region VII (RESPTC), our goals and priorities have grown to assist the facilities around us to ensure their preparedness. This assistance comes through numerous modalities: educational videos, webinars, workshops, infographics, targeted technical assistance, and exercises. The RESPTC is still committed to delivering high quality care for patients with highly hazardous communicable diseases and sharing our knowledge and expertise.

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GCHS Ethics Advisory Committee

Our ethics committee initially focused on helping health care institutions analyze and resolve ethical issues involving Crisis Standards of Care during the COVID-19 pandemic. The committee's work has extended to include key bioethics issues within research, clinical, and public health ethics. The committee accepts requests from civic, health care, and professional organizations related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

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Public Health Training Service (D-SAFE)

In 2022, USPHS partnered with the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s (UNMC) Global Center for Health Security (GCHS), the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, and Texas A&M University to create and implement the Public Health Service Deployment Safety Academy for Field Experiences (PHS D-SAFE) to train USPHS officers on personal safety and security when deployed to environments with potential for COVID-19 or high-consequence infectious disease (HCID) exposure. Please check back soon as our webpage is currently under development.

Training, Simulation, and Quarantine Center (TSQC)

This $20 million HHS-funded capability includes a 20-bed National Quarantine Unit, a Biocontainment Unit Training Center, and an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and multipurpose room for incident management training and skills training. The NQU at UNMC/GCHS is the only federally funded resource of its kind; it is specifically designed to provide quarantine services to individuals exposed to highly hazardous communicable diseases.

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National Disaster Medical System Pilot Program (NDMS)

The National Disaster Medical System Pilot Program is a Uniformed Services University-funded program to strengthen interoperable partnerships across the NDMS to care for the nation’s combat casualties by increasing medical surge capabilities and capacity. The GCHS is working to establish a collaborative network of federal and civilian partners to inform and enhance system-wide medical surge capacity, capability, and interoperability.

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Center for Sustainment of Trauma and Readiness (C-STARS)

The Center for Sustainment of Trauma and Readiness Skills, or C-STARS, in Omaha, Nebraska, is a medical training program offered through the United States Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine (USAFSAM), in partnership with the University of Nebraska Medical Center/Nebraska Medicine. This program was designed to prepare Air Force medical personnel to respond to highly hazardous communicable diseases – infectious diseases that are capable of causing serious illness and spreading from person-to-person – to ensure operational readiness and maintain clinical currency.

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Partnerships

Nebraska Drug Development Pipeline by NSRI

This National Strategic Research Institute (NSRI) project aims to turn the University of Nebraska into what one UNMC scientist calls “a virtual pharmaceutical company.” The Defense Health Agency, in collaboration with Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute, has tasked the National Strategic Research Institute with moving potential drug candidates toward clinical trials – and funded the effort with a five-year, $11 million grant titled the Nebraska Drug Development Pipeline.

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Austere Environment Consortium for Enhanced Spesis Outcomes (ACESO)

ACESO is part of a multinational, multidisciplinary team composed of military and academic institutions in the U.S., Uganda, and Ghana, with clinical research sites in Africa and Asia. The consortium works to improve treatment and survival for sepsis patients under resource-limited conditions.

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Global Infectious Disease Preparedness Network (GIDPN)

Partnering with institutions with high-level isolation units in Singapore, Germany, South Korea and China, we are are developing a clinical trials network and clinical response force to ensure a rapid exchange of information and resources during pandemics. The goal: Local and worldwide health system and public health preparedness.

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Center for Staphylococcal Research

At UNMC's Center for Staphylococcal Research (CSR), nationally-lauded clinicians and scientists work on innovative strategies – for example investigating how ultrasound-mediated microbubbles, when combined with antibiotics, can be used to knock staph bacteria biofilm away from heart valves – for fighting deadly staph infections. This is the nation’s first research center dedicated to staphylococcal research and translational treatment strategies.

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Bioinformatic Research Education Pipeline

The Bioinformatic Research Education Pipeline is part of the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases. This program is preparing the next generation of talented young scientists ready to step up to work in Department of Defense next-generation sequencing technologies for immunology, genomics and infectious disease research. Bioinformatics Research Education Pipeline products will protect U.S. service members from biological threats and test deployable therapies.

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Special Pathogens Research Network (SPRN)

SPRN is a network of U.S. institutions with high-level clinical isolations units that are committed to the development and maintenance of rapid response clinical research infrastructure. The GCHS leads the SPRN with the network Director at UNMC and with core network central IRB infrastructure being housed at UNMC. The network has been leveraged and funded by federal agencies such as NIH and BARDA as well as industry to rapidly implement special pathogens clinical trials and expand access investigational new drug protocols. The network receives longitudinal extramural funding through the National Emerging Special Pathogen Training and Education.

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Nigeria Preparedness Initiative

When Nigeria reached out to the U.S. government for expertise in preparing for an Ebola outbreak, the Department of Defense turned to UNMC and the Global Center for Health Security. The result was the Nigeria Biopreparedness Initiative, a collaboration of the Joint Africa Research Group, U.S. and Nigerian military, and other affiliated researchers and clinicians. Nigerian clinicians have since been trained in the “Nebraska Method” for health system preparedness and safely treating high-consequence infections.

GCHS Leadership & Scholars' Projects & Programs

Infectious Aerosol Research Group - Dr. Joshua Santarpia (GCHS Leadership)

The work of the Infectious Aerosol Research Group led by Dr. Joshua Santarpia is generally in the field of aerobiology, the study of airborne microorganisms. This includes biological sensors, building and facility sensing networks, and development of aerosol measurement tools, including those for unmanned aerial vehicles and for biodetection/collection activities. This also includes work to understand optical and other signatures that can be used to detect and identify biological aerosol and studied how those signatures change over time.

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Emerging Threats Epidemiology Group - Dr. David Brett-Major (GCHS Scholar)

The Emerging Threats Epidemiology Group (ETEG) led by Professor David-Brett Major focuses on epidemiologic aspects of health security risk, oriented towards impact on patient and community centered outcomes. With work streams that range from studies in the field, clinic, or laboratory to policy discernment and risk management, ETEG seeks to consistently generate actionable public health knowledge. The ETEG works with a diverse array of partners and is always looking for new opportunities for collaboration.

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Ebola, Emerging Infectious Diseases & the Eye -Dr. Steven Yeh (GCHS Scholar)

Dr. Steven Yeh, the lead clinician for the Ebola, Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Eye: Ophthalmic Surveillance and Vision Health Systems Strengthening program collaborates with U.S. and African eye care providers, infectious disease, public health, immunology and molecular genomics specialists to understand the mechanisms that lead to uveitis and retinal disease conditions in Ebola survivors. Key areas of research include the potential for Ebola virus to persist within the eye and the body’s long-term immune response after Ebola virus infection.

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Domains

Learn more about the GCHS domains and their capabilities below.