National Security

Duke University to develop test for dirty bomb

Duke University has received a $3.7 million contract to develop a test for radiation exposure from a dirty bomb or nuclear attack.

The contract comes from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, and could be worth up to $43.6 million to Duke if the government renews it in the future.

"Since 9/11, there has been national concern about the possibility of a terrorist attack in the U.S. involving radiological or nuclear materials. Such an attack could kill or injure hundreds of thousands of people," says John Chute, associate professor of medicine at Duke and principal investigator of the project, in a Duke press release. "The problem is that right now, we don't have any way to rapidly screen thousands of people to determine their level of radiation exposure. Many people who suffer radiation injury can recover and survive if they are promptly and properly treated."

BARDA is part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It manages Project BioShield and the Public Health Emergency Medical Countermeasures Enterprise, two organizations charged with the development of medical response to pandemic disease and countermeasures for chemical, biological and nuclear attacks.

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