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University of Iowa News Release

Feb. 6, 2003

Hygienic Laboratory Team To Discuss Bioterrorism Readiness Feb. 13

Public health and clinical laboratories are on the front lines of disease surveillance and emergency response to agents that may be used in biological attacks. On Thursday, Feb. 13, the bioterrorism response team of the University of Iowa Hygienic Laboratory (UHL) will present an overview of laboratory services in Iowa for the detection and confirmation of agents of bioterrorism.

The free lecture, "Preparing for Bioterrorism: An Update from the University of Iowa Hygienic Laboratory," will be held from noon to 1 p.m. in Room 20 of the Nursing Building on the UI campus. It also will be broadcast live over the Iowa Communications Network (ICN). The program is part of the spring 2003 Grand Rounds series sponsored by the Iowa Center for Public Health Preparedness (ICPHP). Advanced registration is requested and may be completed online at

The UHL team will describe policy issues associated with planning for bioterrorism events, explain the structure and function of the Iowa Laboratory Response Network, review current status of laboratory readiness to identify potential agents of bioterrorism, discuss the role of the UHL and the Iowa Laboratory Response Network in smallpox detection and in the Iowa smallpox vaccination program, and provide information on biosecurity for select agents.

"This program is particularly timely as states are beginning to implement smallpox immunization programs and bioterrorism response plans," said Gregory Gray, Ph.D., UI professor of epidemiology.

Speakers from the UHL will include director Mary Gilchrist, Ph.D.; Michael Pentella, Ph.D., public health medical microbiologist; Bonnie Rubin, bioterrorism response coordinator; and Lucy DesJardin, Ph.D., program manager for the virology, serology and molecular biology sections at the UHL.

The presentation is sponsored by the Iowa Center for Public Health Preparedness, based in the UI College of Public Health, and the Iowa Association of Local Public Health Agencies. The ICPHP is funded by a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through a cooperative agreement with the Association of Schools of Public Health. For more information about the Grand Rounds series, contact Jörg Westermann at (319) 384-4294.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa College of Public Health Office of Communications, 4257 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242.

MEDIA CONTACT(S): Debra Venzke, 319-335-9647,