Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Coffee with Colleagues Showcases Collaborative Efforts at ECBC

ABERDERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md.On Dec. 12, CBARR showcased the results from its 219-funded project at the fourth annual Coffee with Colleagues event hosted by ECBC’s BioSciences Division in the Research and Technology Directorate. The Rapid Detect-Identify-Decontamination Kit was one of 60 posters highlighting ongoing research and development efforts across the Center and gave colleagues a chance to share their work and expertise in an informal setting.

The Rapid Detect-Identity-Decontaminate Kit was designed for the decontamination of suspected areas where spore-forming bacteria may be present inside a military or commercial aircraft. It contains hand-held detector assays, personnel protective gear and decontamination materials. ECBC utilized its own resources to test the effective-ness of the kit, including test beds and biological decontamination methodologies, C-130 cargo aircrafts and barcoded spore technology. Conceptual model design and animation was also used for the kit prototype, which offers a developing solution for the hazard mitigation arena.

“Our goal was to detect a spore contaminant in a suspected area, identify its presence using hand-held assays, decontaminate the areas using a surface decontaminating foam and clear the area of the contaminant after the decontamination process,” said Debbie Menking, project manager. “As a result of the testing, we achieved what we set out to do by demonstrating proof-of-concept for a novel hazard mitigation kit that detects-identifies and decontaminates biological contaminants in aircraft interiors. Moving forward, we recommend replacing the hand-held assays with a commercial-off-the-shelf electro-chemical detector that will improve assay sensitivity.”

The concept for the Rapid Detect-Identify-Decontaminate Kit was the result of a previous multi-directorate collaboration between Menking and Sofi Ibrahim, Ph.D., a microbiologist who conducted decontamination biological efficacy assessments at ECBC for the Joint Project Manager-Protection. Now, the methodologies and success from that project have grown into another cross-directorate opportunity that explored decontamination efficacy inside aircraft.

“Leveraging momentum from the decon testing in order to take it to the next level was our goal. The Section 219 funding provided the means to drive the development of the proposed kit using tri-directorate assets to explore how effective a Detect-Identify-Decontaminate process could work against biological agent hazards inside an aircraft,” Menking said.

Section 219 funding originated from the National Defense Authorization Act of 2009, which allows military and government research laboratories to generate revenue as an indirect fee to help finance the overall cost of a given project. The proposed kit was awarded funds from the FY13 ECBC 219 funding. The kit was one of nine ECBC projects that effectively met ECBC’s objective of maintaining awareness of emerging threats and met the required proposal criteria: innovation, collaboration and potential transition to the warfighter.

“It was exciting to experience the vitality and creativity generated as talented scientists and engineers came to the table energized by a common goal,” said Menking. “We brainstormed and fed off each other's ideas to make a better product in the end."

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