Firepower in the Lab: Automation in the Fight Against Infectious Diseases and Bioterrorism / Edition 1

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Today's world poses a triple threat to the American population: infectious diseases, contamination of food and water, and bioattacks (biowarfare or bioterrorism). At least 17 countries are producing weapons of mass destruction using viruses, bacteria, or their toxins. AIDS, E. coli contamination, drug-resistant tuberculosis, and virulent flu strains are perhaps the best known of a host of disease threats. What these dangers have in common is the amount of data required to achieve solutions; in some cases, as much as a petabit (1 followed by 15 zeros) of data is required to study large numbers of samples from widespread locations.

Firepower in the Lab examines how the nation can combat this triple threat by improving our ability to detect, measure, and monitor harmful biological agents. It explores the potential of today's exciting new laboratory automation and computer technologies as well as the emerging tools of molecular biology--how we can generate and analyze more data quickly and reduce human hands-on involvement, which inevitably introduces errors.

The book discusses how to improve and apply technologies such as robotics, laboratory automation, "lab-on-a-chip," bioinformatics, and Internet control innovations. It reviews lessons learned from our experience with pandemic flu viruses. It also presents strategies for developing new high-throughput technologies, including how to address the lack of public funding for critical research undertakings.

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Editorial Reviews

From The Critics
Contributors in diverse areas including epidemiology, health studies, applied robotics, and chemical sciences, many working in government and military laboratories, explore methods for combating the threat of infectious diseases, contamination of food and water, and bioterrorism. They describe emerging methods based on improving the ability to detect and monitor harmful biological agents using the latest tools in laboratory automation, computer technologies, and molecular biology. Methods discussed involve robotics, bioinformatics, the Internet, and process control innovations. Funding issues are also discussed. Material originated at an April 1999 colloquium held in Washington, D.C. Layne teaches in the School of Public Health at the University of California-Los Angeles. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780309068499
  • Publisher: National Academies Press
  • Publication date: 5/31/2001
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 312
  • Product dimensions: 6.38 (w) x 9.62 (h) x 1.01 (d)

Table of Contents

1 Where the Bucks Stop: A Case for Intermediate-Scale Grants 1
2 Tackling Grand Challenges with Powerful Technologies 5
3 The Application of Mathematical Models in Infectious Disease Research 31
4 Expanding the Worldwide Influenza Surveillance System and Improving the Selection of Strains for Vaccines 47
5 Addressing Emerging Infectious Diseases, Food Safety, and Bioterrorism: Common Themes 55
6 Laboratory Firepower for AIDS Research 61
7 Input/Output of High-Throughput Biology: Experience of the National Center for Biotechnology Information 85
8 Applications of Modern Technology to Emerging Viral Infections and Vaccine Development 93
9 Next Steps in the Global Surveillance for Anti-Tuberculosis Drug Resistance 101
10 Antibiotic Discovery by Microarray-Based Gene Response Profiling 113
11 Sequencing Influenza A from the 1918 Pandemic, Investigating Its Virulence, and Averting Future Outbreaks 123
12 Ensuring Safe Food: An Organizational Perspective 133
13 Foodborne Pathogen and Toxin Diagnostics: Current Methods and Needs Assessment from Surveillance, Outbreak Response, and Bioterrorism Preparedness Perspectives 143
14 Food Safety: Data Needs for Risk Assessment 165
15 Biological Weapons: Past, Present, and Future 177
16 National Innovation to Combat Catastrophic Terrorism 187
17 Flow Cytometry Analysis Techniques for High-Throughput Biodefense Research 193
18 Forensic Perspective on Bioterrorism and the Proliferation of Bioweapons 203
19 Biological Warfare Scenarios 215
20 Integration of New Technologies in the Future of the Biological Sciences 227
21 New Standards and Approaches for Integrating Instruments into Laboratory Automation Systems 243
22 High-Throughput Sequencing, Information Generation, and the Future of Biology 261
23 Summary and Next Steps 267
App. A: Contributors 271
App. B Automation in Threat Reduction and Infectious Disease Research: Needs and New Directions (Agenda of the April 1999 Colloquium) 277
Index 283
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