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Israel, USA Collaborate on Bioterrorism Security

As part of Israeli and American collaboration in countering international terrorism, securing water supplies from biological and chemical threats have taken a front seat.
By Nissan Ratzlav-Katz
First Publish: 10/7/2005, 9:31 AM / Last Update: 10/7/2005, 11:53 AM

Dr. Raymond Kaempfer, the Philip Marcus Professor of Molecular Biology and Cancer Research in the Department of Molecular Virology at the Hebrew University Faculty of Medicine, has been awarded a massive $5.6 million grant from the US government this month to continue his breakthrough research into a broadly effective drug against superantigens. Superantigens are deadly toxins that, even in very low amounts, can pose a bio-terror threat. The award to Kaempfer is the largest grant ever awarded to an Israeli researcher by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH).

"Our proposal was rated in the number one position by the scientific review panel," he said, a significant accomplishment for a non-American institution.

Dr. Kaempfer has received US Defense Department, military and NIH grants for his work in biodefense since 1993.

In other efforts to fight bioterrorism, the US Environmental Protection Agency and the Israeli Ministry of National Infrastructures signed an agreement a little over one month ago to work together to improve water supply system security. Joint projects could include work on contamination warning systems, conducting field testing of sensor technologies, water supply risk assessment and management, and emergency response.

"Safeguarding our water supply is vital both for the well-being of our citizens and the preservation of our environment," said Judith E. Ayres, assistant administrator for International Affairs. "The statement of intent we have signed will foster greater collaboration between our nations to help protect this precious resource from unintentional or intentional contamination."