Research Mission

The Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt, Jr. National Program for Countermeasures to Biological and Chemical Threats (Zumwalt Program) is a multidisciplinary research, education and service consortium with the primary mission of defining, investigating, mitigating, and furthering the understanding and ability of operational military forces to prevent the threats associated with biological and chemical weapons.

 

Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt Jr. National Program for Countermeasures to Biological & Chemical Threats

 

Starting as early as January 1999, discussions between Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt, Jr. (USN Ret.) and key administrators at Texas Tech University were focused upon the growing and realistic threat our nation faced from the potential use of biological and chemical weapon agents by domestic and foreign enemies of the United States. Within The Institute of Environmental and Human Health (TIEHH) a joint venture was established with Texas Tech University/Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTU/TTUHSC) to design, develop and implement a research and development, training, and response program at Reese Technology Center to investigate and promulgate approaches, methods and technologies to counter the emerging threats posed to homeland defense and security by biological and chemical weapon agents. This program and its associated capabilities and facilities are a permanent resource for the American public that draws expertise from academia, federal and state government, military, industry, and the private sector. The initial focus of the Zumwalt Program was to further address research areas of need as identified by the National Research Council, including:

 

     – Pre-incident communications and intelligence.

     – Personal protective equipment.

     – Detecting and measuring chemical and biological agents.

     – Recognizing covert exposure.

     – Mass-casualty decontamination and triage procedures.

     – Availability, safety and efficacy of drugs, vaccines and other therapeutics.

     – Developing computer-related tools for training and operations.

 

This program at Texas Tech was named in honor of the late Admiral Zumwalt for his far-reaching vision and tireless support in the pursuit and accomplishment of establishing a world-class research and development resource for the protection of the American Homeland.

 

The Zumwalt Program is directly supported by an Administrative Support Group that includes:

 

Dr. Galen Austin - Senior Research Associate and Program Support Coordinator

Ms. Karinne Truelock - Financial and Budget Management

Ms. Stephanie White - Administrative Assistant

 

In addition to more than 30 Texas Tech University System faculty directly and indirectly associated with the Zumwalt Program, there are approximately six Post-Doctoral Researchers and 30 Graduate Research Assistants working within the auspices of the program.

The Zumwalt Program has focused its initial five-year research efforts in the following areas:

 

 

    Detection--exploring the development of new technologies and adaptation of existing technologies for detecting known chemical and biological agents on a real-time basis, determining methodologies for predicting and detecting chimeric agents, and evaluating these techniques for utility by both the military and public health services.

    Biological Mechanisms--understanding the mechanism(s) by which toxic biological and chemical agents cause adverse health effects in humans. Low-level, chronic, and synergistic effects will be considered, along with individual variability in susceptibility. This knowledge will be used to predict more effective detection and countermeasure techniques, and will lead to the development of an integrated database related to environmental diseases/exposures.

    Physical and Medical Countermeasures--evaluating possible triage, treatment, and large-area decontamination scenarios that are applicable to bioterrorist events in U.S. cities. We are also exploring treatment scenarios for heretofore-undiscovered agents and ways to reduce the toxicity of low-level exposure to chemical agents. The International Textile Institute will collaborate with other investigators to develop economical outerwear for first-responders.

    Modeling--developing state-of-the-art epidemiological, toxicological/physiological models, and models of the physical environment as predictive tools for decision-makers and strategists. We will be validating models of the spread of chemical and biological agents in the air, water, and soil, with applications to rural, urban, and suburban environments. We will also be exploring predictive models of the spread of infectious or toxic agents in and between humans, domestic animals and wildlife.

    High Performance Computing and Virtual-Reality Visualization -–utilizing the High Performance Computer Center as a critical partner with TIEHH and the Zumwalt Program, significant advances in the effectiveness of training and education related to biological and chemical terrorism response have been developed.

On-going Research Projects Have Four Areas of Focus

 

     Focus Area I: Modeling, Simulation, and Visualization

 

     Focus Area II: Agent Detection, Remediation and Therapeutic Intervention Strategies

 

     Focus Area III: Sensors and Personal Protective Devices

 

     Focus Area IV: Environmental Protection Strategies

 

Accomplishments

 

The Zumwalt Program at TTU was comprised of 12 active research projects, involving more than 60 scientists addressing environmental modeling, textiles, chemical engineering, atmospheric science and modeling, electrical engineering, plant and soil sciences, pharmacology, physiology, and microbiology.

 

Three patents have been issued with the U.S. Patent office and one of these has been commercialized as “Fibertect”, a nonwoven decontamination wipe. More than 90 scientific publications have been produced, including the publication of two textbooks, the most recent of which is “New Developments in Biological and Chemical Terrorism Countermeasures”, edited by R.J. Kendall, S.M. Presley, and S.S. Ramkumar and published by CRC Press.

 

This research was under the supervision of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM) and focused on developing technologies to enhance military operational capabilities for force protection and improved readiness.

 

 

New Initiatives Resulting from Zumwalt Program Successes

 

    • Enhanced sensitivity and specificity of biological and chemical agent sensors.

    • Adaptation of biological and chemical agent sensor technologies to more directly support homeland security needs.

    • Development of integrated medical system/health care surge capacity models to assess biological and chemical terrorism incident response

      capabilities.

    • Expansion of non-woven materials technology research to improve health and safety of military forces, as well as emergency first responders

      in diverse environments.

    • Design and development of novel approaches to military medical force protection.

    • Development of biological and chemical environmental threat recognition, prediction and mitigation technologies.

    • Expand area of focus to include the detection, prevention and remediation of pre- and post-harvest biological terrorism against livestock

      production agriculture.

    • Development and implementation of curricula and educational resources for resident and non-resident training of elected government officials

      and emergency response personnel for response to biological and chemical terror incidents.

Participating Departments and Centers at Texas Tech University and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center

 

    • Atmospheric Science Group

    • Biological Sciences

    • Chemical Engineering

    • College of Architecture

    • College of Engineering

    • Computer Science

    • High Performance Computing Center

    • Industrial Engineering

    • International Textile Center

    • Mathematics

    • Mechanical Engineering

    • Microbiology

    • Ophthalmology

    • Physiology

    • Plant and Soil Science

    • Range and Wildlife Management

LINKS OF INTEREST

 

Emergency Preparedness and Response; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

 

     • Chemical Agents listing -

     http://www.bt.cdc.gov/agent/agentlistchem.asp

     Bioterrorism Agents/Diseases listing -

     http://www.bt.cdc.gov/agent/agentlist.asp

 

    • Laboratory Information and Regulations -

     http://www.bt.cdc.gov/labissues/index.asp

 

National Institutes of Health Resources:

 

     • Priority Pathogens listing -

     http://www.niaid.nih.gov/biodefense/bandc_priority.htm

    
     • Biological Defense Research -

     http://www.niaid.nih.gov/publications/bioterrorism.htm

 

Readiness and Preparedness:

 

     • U.S. Government's Readiness Page -

    http://www.ready.gov

 

U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases resources:

 

     • General reference materials -

     http://www.usamriid.army.mil/education/instruct.htm

 

     • The "BLUE BOOK" -

     http://www.usamriid.army.mil/education/bluebook.htm

 

     • Toxin Weapons -

     http://www.usamriid.army.mil/education/defensetox.htm

 

Miscellaneous

 

     • ADM E.R. Zumwalt information -

     http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/pers-us/uspers-xz/e-zumwt.htm

TIEHH is a major location for environmental and health sciences research at Texas Tech. The Department of Environmental Toxicology is the academic home for the core faculty at TIEHH as well as graduate students conducting research on the integration of environmental impact assessment of toxic chemicals with human health consequences.

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