The tour of Ft Detrick (hosted by the Ft Detrick Alliance) on Thursday was enlightening, although it was about the nicest day of the year and I was stuck on a tour bus or in a conference room from noon until 5 PM.
The first stop was with the 21st Signal Brigade. There was an interesting “briefing” (could call it a “longing”, but this might imply you want to hear more) and they do a lot of neat stuff from Frederick: the Hot Line between White House & Kremlin, responsible for all Presidential Communications and Secret Service, Medical communications, Site R, etc. And the Satellite Farm is pretty cool, too. I think the largest has a spam of 78 feet. Expect a few new additions in the next couple of years.
From there we had an informative visit at the USDA’s Agricultural Research Center’s Foreign Disease-Weed Science Research Unit. From their web site
Research focuses primarily on new or emerging plant pathogens which are not yet established in the U.S. and which must be kept under containment. Studies include 1) identification and control of pathogens which pose a potential threat to American agriculture and 2) use of foreign pathogens for biological control of introduced weeds. Primary objective of the research on disease threatening pathogens is to develop accurate methods for rapid identification and exclusion. The unit also assists in developing controls to compromise the impact of the disease, if established. The primary objective of the weed biocontrol research is to find pathogens not present in the U.S. but which are keeping the target weed under natural control in it’s native habitat. Studies are conducted on molecular and pathological characterization to assure safe release. The overall goal of the weed research is to support sustainable agriculture by assisting American agriculture in eliminating it’s reliance on chemicals for control of weeds. Research is conducted in support of other U.S. Government Agencies that require containment or which need assistance in answers to emergency situations concerning new diseases.
Interesting fact is that this is the largest BL3 level plant containment facility in the world with (I think) 27,000 sq feet of greenhouse under glass. Double insulated glass, white washed to prevent solar heating and cooling. The facility requires a tremendous amount of air handling to maintain temperature and humidity. So, ironically, the Greenhouse is not “Green” at all. But the work they do saves millions and million of acres of crops every year and the research projects can take 20-30 years to complete.
The Last stop on the tour was at TATRC (Telemedicine & Advanced Technology Research Center). They are doing research of the future. I was hoping to hear about the Army’s Institute of Regenerative Medicine, but I did get to hear and seee a number of other cool projects. There were talks about the Advanced robotics and Autonomous Casualty Care Programs, including the BEAR (Battlefield Extraction-Assist Robot) and Advanced Prostetic research. There are a number of links on the TATRC web site to videos they showed us, but I cannot figure out how to make them work. perhaps I am not advanced enough?
We also were given a copy of the TATRC Annual report, highlighting all of the programs (many of them not listed on the web site). These include a suite of sexy, biotech programs like Medical Imaging Technologies that will permit portable sonography and remote diagnosis, a wide array of Infectious Disease research, research on Blood Safety & Supply, Neuroscience, Regenerative Medicine, Traumatic Brain Injury and Nanomedicine.
So the Fort grows and grows. As mentioned in by the Frederick News-Post over the weekend, There are plenty of Jobs Available at Ft Detrick. You can find some of them HERE. Like most job hunting, if you know someone on the inside, I encourage them to ask for their help in getting your application into the right hands.
Looks like a busy day for me tomorrow, but I’ll try to throw up some new, new FredCoBio biotech companies I have heard about. I’ll bet some of them are hiring, too.