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University of Iowa News Release

May 3, 2006

Expert To Discuss Toxins As Agents Of Bioterrorism May 11

Mark A. Poli, a research chemist with the Toxinology and Aerobiology Division of the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), will present "Natural Toxins and Bioterrorism" from noon to 1 p.m. Thursday, May 11, in room 20 of the Nursing Building on the University of Iowa campus. The program is free and open to the public, and will be broadcast via the Iowa Communications Network (ICN), streaming video on the Web and Elluminate (a Web-based conferencing system).

In the current environment of political change and military conflict around the world, there is great concern that terrorist organizations may turn to nontraditional attacks on military or civilian targets. These nontraditional attacks may include biological agents such as bacteria, viruses, or natural or bioengineered toxins. In his presentation, Poli will focus on the reality of toxins as agents of biowarfare or bioterror. He will discuss relevant characteristics of toxin weapons, as well as limitations to their use. He also will evaluate several natural toxins of bacterial, plant and marine origin in this context.

Poli's research involves the study and detection of natural toxins, including ricin, botulinum neurotoxins, staphylococcal enterotoxins and the ciguatoxins, brevetoxins and saxitoxins. Poli serves as a subject matter expert on toxins to USAMRIID and other government agencies. In addition to being widely published, he lectures frequently to scientific groups, academic institutions and law enforcement agencies on toxins and biological warfare. He received his Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Miami School of Medicine and is a diplomate of the American Board of Toxicology.

This program is part of the spring 2006 Grand Rounds series sponsored by the Upper Midwest Center for Public Health Preparedness (UMCPHP). Advanced registration is requested and may be completed online at Links to the live Web broadcast, as well as archives of past presentations, are available on the center's site.

In addition, UI Television (UITV) also will be showing the archived presentation. More information about the UITV service area and program schedule can be found on the UITV Web site,

The presentation is sponsored by the Upper Midwest Center for Public Health Preparedness, Institute for Public Health Practice, UI College of Public Health, Iowa Association of Local Public Health Agencies, Iowa Department of Public Health, Iowa Hospital Association and Iowa Medical Society. UMCPHP is funded by a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For more information on the Grand Rounds series, contact Angela Harding, program assistant in the Upper Midwest Center for Public Health Preparedness, at 319-335-8451 or by e-mail at

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

MEDIA CONTACT: Debra Venzke, 319-335-9647,