Published online 23 April 2008 | 452, 925 (2008) | doi:10.1038/452925b

News in Brief

US biodefence agency appoints first director

Anthrax scares in 2001 prompted Congress to boost US biodefence efforts.Anthrax scares in 2001 prompted Congress to boost US biodefence efforts.B. SKLAR/AP

The body set up last year to coordinate the US government's biodefence efforts has picked its first permanent director.

The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Agency (BARDA) is to be headed by Robin Robinson, the Department of Health and Human Services announced last week. Robinson is currently deputy director of BARDA's influenza and emerging disease programme, and has overseen the development and stockpiling of vaccines against the H5N1 avian flu virus.

BARDA oversees Project BioShield, a $5.6-billion effort to purchase biodefence countermeasures that has been criticized as a giveaway to industry (see <i>Nature</i> 431, 1023; 2004). It is the culmination of much congressional discussion over what to do about biodefence after the still-unsolved postal anthrax attacks of 2001. 

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