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    USF receives grant to fight bioterrorism

    The university's Center for Biological Defense will use the funds to defend health workers.

    By BARRY KLEIN

    © St. Petersburg Times,
    published September 27, 2001


    TAMPA -- The federal government Wednesday awarded the University of South Florida nearly $4-million to devise a system for protecting public health workers from a bioterrorist attack.

    The contract with the U.S. Department of Defense will build on a $1.8-million grant received last year by the USF Center for Biological Defense, which is using the money to develop a surveillance system to defend against germ warfare.

    The center also is working on ways to guard against the introduction of pathogens into animal herds and the food supply.

    "We will be able to apply the work we do to many different kinds of public health emergencies," said Jacqueline Cattani, the center's director. That includes naturally occurring diseases such as the West Nile virus, she said.

    The contract is the latest evidence of USF's growing status as a research institution. The amount of sponsored research at the university reached $186-million last year, officials said Wednesday.

    The total is a record for USF, and represents a three-fold increase over the past 10 years.

    The largest jump was in the Colleges of Marine Science, which is based in St. Petersburg. Faculty there conducted $16.8-million in research last year, up from $8.8-million in 1999-2000.

    The colleges of Arts & Sciences and Engineering also registered significant increases. But the leader was the College of Medicine, which brought in $64.1-million, or more than one-third the university's total.

    University officials are particularly happy about a huge jump in federal grants, which are the most prestigious and hardest to get.

    In 1999-2000, federal grants totaled $53.7-million. Last year, they reached $84.1-million -- a 57 percent increase.

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