$10.3 million to investigate chemical, biological threats, countermeasures

by Katelyn Ideus
November 04, 2020

Image with file name: NSRI_Featured_Headshot_Twitter.jpg

The National Strategic Research Institute (NSRI) at the University of Nebraska, with colleagues at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), has been awarded a $10.3 million contract by the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency to investigate novel therapeutic, prophylactic and pretreatment approaches for respiratory recovery and exposure to chemical and biological threats.

Leveraging an interdisciplinary, multi-campus team as well as four laboratories at the University of Nebraska, the work will take place over a period of four years with major deliverables including bacterial, viral and chemical aerosol characterization studies; threat studies; and support for medical countermeasure development.

"The efforts from this program will enable the Department of Defense to develop countermeasures to existing and emerging threats and develop an understanding of threat space to better protect our warfighters," said project PI Dr. Joshua Santarpia [nsri.nebraska.edu], NSRI research director for CWMD programs and associate professor of pathology and microbiology at UNMC.

The project utilizes the Nebraska Drug Discovery Pipeline, an initiative to integrate the activities of experts across the four campuses of the university to develop capabilities to move molecules forward for drug development.

"This project is an excellent demonstration of the collaborative partnerships NSRI and NU continue to foster to support the safety and security mission of the DoD," said Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Robert Hinson [nsri.nebraska.edu], NSRI executive director. "Within our own university and across the national security landscape, we continue to assemble highly-skilled teams that deliver products important to the DoD and NSRI’s own mission — keeping our warfighters safe."

The interdisciplinary teams for this project are coordinated by Dr. Daniel Monaghan, professor of pharmacology and experimental neuroscience at UNMC. His primary research is in the development and biochemical and physiological characterization of novel drugs acting on the nervous system.

Dr. Kaushik Patel, professor in the UNMC department of cellular and integrative physiology, has research expertise in central nervous system control of the autonomic nervous system and its effects on the cardiovascular and renal function. The research team headed by Dr. Patel will determine the effects of these chemical agents on the cardiovascular and renal function.

The third UNMC research team is led by Dr. Daryl Murry, professor in pharmaceutical sciences, whose expertise is in characterizing drug pharmacokinetics and disposition in vivo. This expertise is necessary for understanding drug action and for obtaining regulatory approvals for drug use in humans.

At the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Dr. Rick Bevins [psychology.unl.edu], chancellor’s professor of psychology and interim associate vice chancellor for research, will identify the effects of protective and threat agents on cognition and behavioral function.

"Thanks to the scope of the expertise delivered by this investigative team, we will be able to characterize potential chemical, bacterial and viral threats and evaluate their stability and respiratory threat potential," Dr. Monaghan said.

About the National Strategic Research Institute
Through the National Strategic Research Institute at the University of Nebraska leading scientists deliver innovative national security research, technology, product and strategy development, training and exercises, and subject matter expertise to the Department of Defense and other federal agencies. One of only 14 DoD-designated University Affiliated Research Centers in the country, NSRI is sponsored by U.S. Strategic Command and works to ensure the United States’ safety and preparedness against increasingly sophisticated threats. Learn more at nsri.nebraska.edu.