Screen readers: Two navigational links to follow.Skip to site navigation.Skip to page content.
The University of Iowa News Services
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us

University of Iowa News Release


Nov. 14, 2006

Detecting Biothreat Agents Topic Of Nov. 16 Lecture

Randal Schoepp, chief of the Applied Diagnostics Branch, Diagnostic Systems Division at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, will present "Recombinant Reagents for the Detection of Biothreat Agents" from 1 to 2 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 16, in Room 2117 of the Medical Education and Research Facility (MERF) on the UI campus.

The program is free and open to the public, and also will be broadcast via streaming video on the Web.

In his presentation, Schoepp will discuss how diagnostics are a key component in the defense against biological agents, whether encountered in natural outbreaks or deliberately used in acts of warfare or terrorism. The ability to identify a biological agent such as anthrax, smallpox or ricin immediately after exposure is critical to determining appropriate treatments.

Immunodiagnostics have become the standard against which many agent-detection, identification and diagnostic technologies are compared. Immunodiagnostic assays, or tests, can be divided into two general categories: antigen and antibody detection assays. Both types of assays rely upon diagnostic reagents -- substances that are added to a sample to obtain the test result. These diagnostic reagents must be of consistently high quality, and many of them must be produced in special containment laboratories where hazardous biological agents can be safely handled.

An alternative approach is the use of recombinant antibodies and antigens. Recombinant DNA technology permits the cloning and expression of specific antibodies or antigens in large quantities that are of consistent quality. In addition, they can be produced under non-containment conditions because only selected components are used and not the entire agent.

When compared to reagents produced using traditional methods, these recombinant reagents can often be produced less expensively and in a shorter amount of time. The ultimate goal of this scientific effort is not only to provide high-quality reagents for existing assays, but also to develop a system that can quickly produce reagents to new and emerging biological threats.

Schoepp's presentation is part of the fall 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 show 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 UMCPHP, the 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,