BioDefense Symposium keynote speaker:

Dr. Jerry Jaax
associate vice president for research compliance
university veterinarian
Kansas State University

In January 2006, the Department of Homeland Security announced plans to establish a new biosafety level 4 facility to research disease-borne health and security threats, and develop vaccines capable of neutralizing them.  Twenty-nine sites encompassing11 states stepped up to compete for the project. Ultimately, on December 5, 2008, the Manhattan campus of Kansas State University won the $563 million National Bio and Agro Defense Facility.  Community and state leaders have hailed the project as the most important economic development project since railroads crossed the length of the state. “It is key to the economic future of Kansas,” said U.S. Senator Pat Roberts.
The new and unique government biocontainment infrastructure will:

  • integrate those aspects of public and animal health research that have been determined to be central to national security;
  • assess and research evolving bioterrorism threats over the next five decades; and
  • enable the Departments of Homeland Security and Agriculture to fulfill related homeland defense research, development, testing and evaluation responsibilities.

Dr. Jerry Jaax , associate vice president for research compliance and university veterinarian, served 26 years with the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps. His assignments included chief of the veterinary medicine and laboratory support at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Chemical Defense at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., and chief of the veterinary medicine division at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Md. He also served as director of the Army’s postgraduate training program in laboratory animal medicine, and was the director of the Biological Arms Control Treaty Office at Fort Detrick, where he was responsible for overall compliance of the U.S. Army with all international biological warfare treaties and agreements.

Jaax was a key participant in dealing with the 1989 Reston Ebola outbreak as a U.S. Army veterinarian. The outbreak was detailed in Richard Preston’s best-selling book, The Hot Zone.