Texas A&M To Pay One Million Dollars to Reopen Biodefense Labs

By: Ashlea Sigman Email
By: Ashlea Sigman Email

It's been seven months since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suspended Texas A&M's biodefense research, but that program could resume as early as next month. The university has reached a $1 million dollar agreement with the federal government.

Texas A&M agreed to pay the Office of Inspector General to get the ball rolling again with its biodefense program. You may remember the CDC suspended the program in July of last year. Researchers at A&M were infected with bioweapons agents in February 2006. One worker was infected with Brucella and others exposed to Q fever.

The CDC says the University failed to report those infections in a timely manner, and cited at least a dozen problems the school had to correct before it was allowed to resume. Texas A&M President Elsa Murano says the University initiated the offer.

"Its important for us to resume this research so I felt that it was important for them to demonstrate we meant business, that we are serious about it, and that we have taken active steps to correct the situation, and that we don't take this lightly," said Murano.

Murano says the money must be approved by the board of regents. They'll hold a special meeting Tuesday to discuss the matter. The million dollars would be taken out of the research compliance fund.

Murano wouldn't say if offers of lesser amounts were made. "If there were other figures offered up, we had not heard anything from OIG accepting them, where as when we offered this figure they very quickly accepted it and that is exactly the result I was looking for," said Murano.

According to Murano, the CDC will be back in early March to conduct inspections. She believes inspectors will find A&M has gone above and beyond the required modifications. She says training programs, changes in labs, record keeping and access to the labs have all been changed.

If the university if found to be compliant, Murano hopes research will resume as soon as the end of March.

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