Apr 102003
Authors: Jason Kosena

The events of Sept. 11 awoke many people to the reality of terrorism and the dangerous threat it is to an open society like America. Researchers at CSU believe active research at eight land grant universities can be expanded to play a role in national defense.

The Rocky Mountain Institute for Biosecurity Research (RMIBR) was founded after Sept. 11 at CSU to achieve this goal, said Mark Gill, assistant director of RMIBR.

“After 9-11 the university decided to form an institute for biosecurity,” Gill said. “By coordinating and facilitating biosecurity research among CSU and the land grant universities in seven other states, the Institute wants to leverage the capabilities (of the universities) and get good information to the people.”

Gill says that RMIBR can play an essential role by being the facilitator of future research that needs to be completed.

Because CSU and the other land grant universities already have active research in agricultural and biological fields, a coordination of these efforts with a new mission can help in many areas, according to Gill.

“We’ve got a lot of embedded capabilities at CSU from both the research side and the outreach side,” Gill said. “We are trying to market these capabilities to the nation. We want to show people what great resources CSU and the other Land Grant Universities have to offer (in the field of biosecurity).”

A regional committee of the Western Association of Agricultural Experiment Stations, consisting of representatives from the eight different land grant universities, would evaluate the different research requirements. Then a decision would be formed as to which university is best suited to do the work, Gill said.

“Determining where the threats are and how the land grant universities can come together (to accomplish solid research on these threats) is the goal,” Gill said.

RMIBR has been coordinating with other regional public health departments in the application process, according to Jim Beebe, program manager of microbiology for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Laboratory.

“We are collaborating with our colleagues at (CSU) on their application to the National Institute of Health for research on biosecurity and response to bioterrorism,” Beebe said.

Beebe said the Colorado Department of Public Health would play a helpful role in two areas of the RMIBR.

“First we can give advice and counsel on what research would be of use (in the biochemical field). We can also serve as a test bed to test the devices and technologies that (the land grant universities) develop and give them a shakedown in a (real world) situation,” Beebe said.

The ultimate goal of RMIBR is to “safeguard biological resources against three different types of threats: chemical, biological and radiological. We are looking at all three types of threats,” Gill said.

Ryan Finch, a junior real estate finance major at CSU, likes the fact the university is getting more involved with research on a national level.

“Anything that sets CSU apart from other universities across the nation, I think will benefit us in the long run,” Finch said. “I think that (RMIBR) and CSU are on the right track.”

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