|David A. Jett, Ph.D.
The increased risk of a terrorist attack in the United States involving chemical agents has created new challenges for many departments and agencies across the federal government. Within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the NIH is taking a leadership role in pursuing the development of new and improved medical countermeasures designed to prevent, diagnose, and/or treat the conditions caused by potential and existing chemical threat agents. Many of these same chemicals not only pose as a terrorist threat agent, they may also be released from transportation and storage facilities during industrial accidents or natural disasters. The overarching goal of the CounterACT program is to integrate cutting-edge research with the latest technological advances in science and medicine for a more rapid and effective response during these chemical emergencies.
The CounterACT program is a translational research program supporting basic, translational, and clinical research aimed at the discovery or identification of better therapeutic medical countermeasures and/or diagnostic technologies against chemical threat agents, and facilitates their movement through the drug development and regulatory processes in collaboration with other federal departments, agencies, and initiatives, such as the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (HHS BARDA) and the FDA Medical Countermeasures Initiative (MCMi). CounterACT is part of the HHS Public Health Emergency Medical Countermeasures Enterprise (PHEMCE), which coordinates MCM-related efforts across HHS and USG interagency partners.This NIH-led program includes a comprehensive network of Research Centers of Excellence, individual co-operative research projects, small business innovation research grants, contracts, and interagency agreements with the Department of Defense.
The CounterACT program is funded by a special Congressional supplement to the NIH budget through the Office of the Director (NIH OD) under the oversight of the Office of Biodefense Research at the NIAID. This is a trans-NIH effort, involving partnerships with the NEI, NIAID, NIAMS, NICHD, NIEHS, NLM, NHLBI, and NINDS to execute the overall NIH Medical Research Program Directed Against Chemical Threats.
Examples of Threat Agents
Categories of research supported under this program include, but are not limited to:
Special consideration will be given to research relevant to people who are particularly vulnerable, including pregnant women, infants, the young, the elderly, and individuals with pre-existing medical conditions. Animal models and studies that address these vulnerabilities as well as long term effects after an acute exposure event are of interest. An animal model is defined as a specific combination of an animal species, challenge agent, and route of exposure that produces a disease process or pathological condition that in multiple important aspects corresponds to the human disease or condition of interest.
Program Review Publications
Jett DA. (2012) Chemical toxins that cause seizures. Neurotoxicology. 33: 1473-75. Abstract
Jett DA, Yeung DT. (2010) The CounterACT Research Network: Basic mechanisms and practical applications. Proc Am Thorac Soc. 7(4): 254-6. Abstract
Jett DA. (2010) Finding new cures for neurological disorders: A possible fringe benefit of biodefense research? Sci Transl Med. 2(23): 23ps12.
Last updated September 21, 2015