May 7, 1998 - Department of Defense Appropriations

The American Society for Microbiology (ASM), the largest single life science organization in the world, comprised of more than 43,000 members, is writing to recommend increased funding for the Department of Defense's (DoD) Military Infectious Diseases Research Program in Fiscal Year (FY) 1999.

The ASM represents scientists working in academic, governmental and industrial institutions worldwide. Microbiologists are involved in research to improve human health and the environment. The ASM's mission is to enhance the science of microbiology, to gain a better understanding of basic life processes, and to promote the application of this knowledge for improved health, and for economic and environmental well being.

The DoD has a unique role in conducting applied microbiological research on diseases of military importance. DoD supported research into naturally occurring infectious diseases is primarily related to the prevention and the diagnosis and treatment of diseases that could seriously hamper military mobilization, deployment, and capability. However, DoD research can also lead to the development of new drugs and vaccines for the civilian population as well.

DoD research in the Military Infectious Disease Research Program encompasses the development of vaccines against militarily important diseases, discovery and development of prophylactic and treatment drugs for parasitic infectious diseases, techniques for rapid identification of disease organisms and diagnosis of infections, collection and analysis of epidemiological data that aid in control of relevant infectious diseases, and studies of control measures against infectious disease vectors.

In light of both the DoD's needs for product development and testing and the President's Directive on Emerging Diseases Surveillance, which expands the mission of the DoD to include support of global surveillance, training, research and response to em erging infectious disease threats, the ASM urges Congress to provide increased funding for DoD overseas laboratories to meet these new requirements. Additionally, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) should be encouraged to support competitive research that utilizes the DoD's overseas laboratories.

The President's budget request for DOD proposes a $69 million or 6.6 percent increase to $1.1 billion for basic research ("6.1"). Applied research ("6.2") would increase by 5 percent to $3.1 billion. The ASM is encouraged by these increases and urges Congress and the DoD to support increased funding for basic microbiological research within the Military Infectious Disease Research Program.

Basic research in microbiology can lead to valuable medical and environmental technologies. DoD scientists are currently working to develop the following medical advancements which could benefit the military and civilian populations: Enterotoxigneic E. coli (ETEC) Vaccine, Malaria Vaccines, Hepatitis-A Vaccine, Shigella Vaccine, Tick-Borne Encephalitis Vaccine, Campylobacter Vaccine, Antimalarial Drugs (prophylatic), Meningitis Group B Protein Vaccine, Cholera Vaccine, and a Korean Hemorrhagic Fever Vaccine among others.

The ASM appreciates this opportunity to provide you with our comments on the FY1999 budget request for DoD research and development programs.