CounterACT Program


Countermeasures against chemical threats banner

A Trans-NIH Initiative in Translational Research

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 and treat the acute and long-term 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 supports basic and translational research aimed at the identification of better therapeutic medical countermeasures 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. The NIH Strategic Plan and Research Agenda for Medical Countermeasures Against Chemical Threats(pdf, 3432 KB) outlines the short and long-term goals to improve the nation's ability to diagnose, prevent, and treat injuries resulting from chemical attacks or accidents.  This NIH-led program includes a comprehensive network of Research Centers of Excellence, individual cooperative research projects, small business innovation research grants, contracts, and interagency agreements with the Department of Defense. 

The CounterACT program is funded by a special annual Congressional supplemental appropriation to the NIH budget through the Office of the Director (NIH OD) and operates under the oversight of the Office of Biodefense Research and Surety (OBRS) at the NIAID. This is a trans-NIH effort, involving partnerships with the NEINIAIDNIAMSNICHDNIEHSNIDA, NIGMS and NINDS to execute the overall NIH Medical Research Program Directed Against Chemical Threats.

Q&A Webinar:

From Exploratory to Therapeutic Development
August 30, 2023 | 1:00 pm EST

Investigators interested in learning more about these exciting opportunities are encouraged to register and participate in this Q&A Webinar. 



Status Epilepticus after Benzodiazepines: Seizures and Improving Long Term Outcomes
February 28 - March 1, 2023

The recent approval of intramuscular midazolam (Seizalam®) for acute treatment of status epilepticus (SE) is an important advancement for the treatment of epilepsy and chemical nerve agent exposures. However, effective treatments that improve neuropathic outcomes after SE becomes refractory to benzodiazepines is a common unmet need for both epilepsy and nerve agent researchers. 

This virtual workshop will convene preclinical and clinical researchers, as well as relevant stakeholders to discuss and define the indications of potential therapeutics needed to improve outcomes following SE. Topics of discussion will include refractory SE, post SE neuropathology, current clinical trials, gaps in the research for follow-on treatments and barriers to transitioning therapies to the clinic. Outcomes of the workshop will include a clearer understanding of the unmet therapeutic needs and identification of key gaps in the research, increasing the potential for new therapeutics development.

Resources and Tools


Funding Opportunities 

News & Events

Article on sarin long-term effects(pdf, 3415 KB) 

Sarin poses health risk after initial effects, peer reviewers agree

Workshop: Status Epilepticus after Benzodiazepines: Seizures and Improving Long Term Outcomes
February 28 - March 1, 2023

From Exploratory to Therapeutic Development Webinar
August 30, 2023 | 1PM EST

Basic Research on Chemical Threats Webinar
March 8, 2023 | 2PM EST

Cooperative Agreements Webinar
July 27, 2022 | 1PM EST


View all CounterACT Program Events


Related Topics 

Contact information for designated Program Officers from various NIH Institutes & Centers with specific relevant expertise in areas of research supported by the NIH CounterACT program.

Contains resources to help develop competitive grant applications for the NIH CounterACT Program, such as Webinars, examples of chemical threats, categories of research supported, how to write milestones and FAQs.

Preclinical development contract facilities that support the NIH CounterACT research network and other interested investigators.

Noteworthy achievements, awards, and honors received by NIH CounterACT investigators.

FDA Guidance Documents
Links to FDA guidance documents relevant to translational research supported by the NIH CounterACT program, including Product Development Under the FDA Animal Rule.

Research Network/Funded Investigators
Information on all current NIH CounterACT-supported projects, including links to the NIH RePORTER database that contains a comprehensive and detailed description of each project.

Program Publications
NIH CounterACT-supported research publications are listed by year and toxic modality, i.e., cellular and metabolic poisons, neurotoxic agents, pulmonary agents, and vesicating agents.

CounterACT Milestone Examples for Cooperative Agreements

CounterACT Frequently Asked Questions