UNM Partners with Sandia and N.M. Department of Health to Establish Bioresearch Consortium

University of New Mexico and New Mexico State University will join Sandia National Laboratories and the New Mexico Department of Health in signing a Memorandum of Agreement to form the New Mexico Consortium for Bioresearch on Monday, November 25 from 4-5 p.m. at University House on the UNM campus.  UNM President F. Chris Garcia, Sandia Director Paul Robinson and DOH Secretary Jack Callaghan will be on hand for the signing.  NMSU will be represented by the College of Arts and Sciences Interim Dean Jeffrey Brown.

The goal of the Consortium is to provide opportunities for bioscience research that each institution cannot effectively pursue separately, said Sandra Zink, director of the Consortium.  The Consortium is already a functioning team, working through its Executive Council and its Science Committee. The Council sets the strategic direction for the Consortium, makes executive decisions and promotes the Consortium.

The Science Committee members work together to develop appropriate responses to initiatives from federal funding agencies and to respond to specific opportunities that take advantage of the collective bioresearch capabilities.

Combining resources of the four groups will bring together state-of-the-art laboratory and research facilities, databanks and expertise in a multitude of scientific and medical fields.  UNM offers a wealth of capabilities in basic academic research, health sciences and emergency medicine; Sandia National Laboratories provides a science, engineering, computing and technology base; the New Mexico Department of Health brings the strengths of public health surveillance, epidemiology, and testing and validation capabilities; and New Mexico State provides expertise in the agricultural sciences, both plant and animal.

The Consortium is currently developing responses to an initiative from the NIH National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in the area of biodefense. NIAID is interested in sponsoring research on pathogens that could represent potential bioterrorist agents, such as the microbes that cause anthrax, plague, botulism, and viral hemorrhagic fevers.

Another initiative being pursued by Consortium members is the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON), a multi-million dollar effort launched by the National Science Foundation to provide a network of environmental and biological sensors throughout the US to assist in monitoring the environment for unusual events and to track biological change.

As the Consortium becomes established, it will foster partnerships with industry, other institutions and laboratories that will support national and regional missions and have a positive economic impact on the state.

Contact: Cindy Foster, 272-3322

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