A committee of experts will conduct a scientific assessment of the requirements for a foreign animal and zoonotic disease research and diagnostic laboratory facility in the United States. Specifically, the committee will:
1. Assess the threat posed to livestock by infectious diseases, such as zoonoses, current and emerging diseases, and bioterrorist agents. For this effort, the committee will rely upon a literature review of relevant articles and reports addressing foreign animal diseases, agricultural bioterrorism, emerging and zoonotic diseases. DHS and USDA will provide relevant materials to assist the committee.
2. Identify the US laboratory and related infrastructure needed to counter the threat and meet the animal health, public health, and food security needs of the United States.
3. The committee will examine alternative approaches to providing the needed infrastructure, focusing on three options:
• Building the NBAF as currently designed;
• Building a scaled-back version of the NBAF (to be described by NRC/NAS);
• Maintaining current capabilities at PIADC while leveraging BSL-4 laboratory capacity (for livestock) through foreign laboratories.
In evaluating alternatives, the committee will examine factors such as capacity and capabilities, advantages and liabilities, relative costs, and other considerations in relation to the mission needs of DHS and USDA (Agricultural Research Service and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) to counter the known and emerging threats from bioterrorism, foreign animal diseases and zoonotic diseases.
The committee’s report will identify pros and cons, discuss potential gaps, and provide consensus advice on how the laboratory infrastructure needed to address emerging foreign animal and zoonotic disease threats could be assembled.
The committee’s examination will address the capability needed to counter the identified threat, relative to the three options. The committee will not consider specific site locations as part of this examination.
The Committee’s Approach to Its Task
The committee was given three months to complete its task. As part of its information-gathering activities, the committee held its first meeting on April 12-14, 2012, in Washington, DC. At the meeting, representatives of DHS and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) briefed the committee on their rationale and expectations for the study, and DHS indicated that it intended to use the findings and conclusions of the committee’s report to inform its decision-making process. DHS and USDA discussed the scientific programs at PIADC and those planned for the NBAF and briefed the committee on the current infrastructure and operating costs of PIADC and on the mission requirements, build-