BER Supports Conference on Genomics and Homeland Security


The American Academy of Microbiology (AAM), with support in part from the Office of Biological and Environmental Research (BER) Life Sciences and Environmental Sciences Divisions, convened a colloquium entitled “Microbial Forensics: A Critical Assessment” on the applications of genomics in the response to bioterrorist acts. The colloquium was organized at the request of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), and involved scientists from Los Alamos National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and academia. The colloquium was held during the week of June 3, 2002, in Burlington, VT. The Academy’s key recommendations regarding microbial forensics will be summarized in a report to be issued in August 2002. This report will describe specific research and development needs in basic science (select agent identification, comparative genomics, and ecophysiology) and in applied science (development of new, legally-admissible protocols for sample handling; quality assurance and quality control). The Academy is the only honorific organization devoted entirely to microbiologists and the science of microbiology; fellows are required to demonstrate scientific excellence, originality, and leadership; high ethical standards; and scholarly and creative achievement. BER’s involvement in the colloquium bridges the Department of Energy’s missions in biodefense and biological research, supports coordination of scientific activities among federal agencies (such as FBI and USDA), and publicizes its commitment to high-quality science leading to greater use of new molecular technologies.