Texas A&M System Snags Huge Biodefense Center Contract

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The Texas A&M System's research biocorridor in Bryan-College Station is getting a huge boost with a multi-million dollar national contract.

The A&M System has been awarded one of three national bio-defense center contracts to quickly develop vaccines in response to flu pandemics and strategies for responding to bioterrorism.

And the center is expected to give an big economic boost to the Bryan-College Station area.

"First of all it's the largest federal grant to come to the state of Texas since NASA.

Texas A&M System Chancellor John Sharp announced that Aggieland will become the site of one of three national biodefense centers to develop medical counter measures in the event of a pandemic, and to respond to bioterrorism.

The initial contract is worth up to $176 million

Sharp uses the movie "Contagion" as an analogy of how a lethal virus could spread around the globe inciting massive panic and fear.
"If you look at the movie Contagion, half of the movie is true. Yes, there is going to be an event that occurs on this planet sometime in the near future, most scientists agree, that may well kill 85 or 90 million people, just as the Spanish Flu did the early part of last century. The second part of the movie, Contagion, is not true. There is no defense for that.

But the contracts are now in place to develop that defense.

A&M will partner with pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline and Kalon Biotherapeutics in College Station, that is already gearing up for hiring more employees.

Kalon CEO Andrew Strong says, "We anticipate that the company will grow materially over the next 18 months. Presently we're at over 30 employees. We will probably be over 100 employees by this time next year."

He says those jobs range from technicians making $35 to $55 thousand a year, up to process development scientists making $100 thousand plus.

The A&M System believes the biodefense center could generate as many as a thousand new jobs.