Luján Introduces Legislation to Bolster Research and Development to Tackle COVID-19 and Emerging Biothreats

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) introduced the National Laboratory Biotechnology Research Act to create a National Laboratory Biotechnology Program within the Department of Energy (DOE) to fund research and development related to the COVID-19 pandemic and long-term biothreats.

The Program is modeled after the National Virtual Biotechnology Laboratory (NVBL) that was created using funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that passed in March 2020. The NVBL is a model for the future and its research can be used to strengthen our national response to emerging biotechnology threats facing the United States. DOE established the NVBL as a consortium of the 17 National Laboratories to focus on leveraging the unique proficiencies and tools of their workforce.

Critical components of the work of the NVBL has been identifying parts of viral genomes that doctors can target with vaccines or anti-viral drugs, using X-rays to determine the structure of the virus that causes COVID-19, and utilizing supercomputers to model and simulate possible combinations of existing drugs to find possible treatments.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear that our nation must be prepared for the next public health threat. The Department of Energy’s National Laboratories, including Los Alamos and Sandia in New Mexico, have long played a role in tackling the world’s greatest scientific and public health challenges, and we can further leverage our National Laboratories to prepare for and address emerging threats in biotechnology to keep Americans safe,” said Luján.

The full text of the legislation can be found HERE.

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