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2006 Feature Stories

ECBC microbiologist Dr. Kevin O'ConnellECBC Microbiologist Dr. Kevin O'Connell Named "Investigator of the Month."
by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency

Dr. Kevin P. O’Connell’s research interests are focused in three areas: 1) the development of new simulants for bacterial and viral threat agents that will be usable from lab bench to field test, 2) new real-time assays to detect threat agent genetic signatures, and 3) genetic characterization of Ricinus communis, the castor plant and source of the toxin ricin. He has also recently begun collaborating on work to redefine the phylogenetic relationships among strains of Yersinia pestis, and consults with the US Army Corps of Engineers on biotechnology applications for soil stabilization. His research experience also includes studies of prokaryotic gene expression, biosensor characterization, and practical applications of molecular biology in biologic al defense.

Dr. O’Connell serves as adjunct assistant professor in the departments of Pharmacology and Epidemiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, lecturing on topics from the pharmacology of antibiotics to molecular biology and bacterial genetics. He has presented his work in biological defense research at several national, international, university and other professional settings. Since 2002, Dr. O’Connell has been a review panelist for the Force Protection session of the biannual Army Science Conference. Dr. O’Connell is an author on over 40 peerreviewed scientific journal articles, Army technical reports, book chapters, abstracts, and other articles. He is currently serving a three-year term on the editorial board of the ASM journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology, and is an ad hoc grant reviewer for the Army Research Office. He is a co-inventor on eight patents and pending patent applications. Before joining government service, Dr. O’Connell received postdoctoral training at the NSF Center for Microbial Ecology at Michigan State University, the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and was a NRC Research Fellow at ECBC. He received MS and Ph.D. degrees in Bacteriology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and his BS degree in Biology from MIT.

(December 7, 2006)


ECBC 2005 Annual ReportECBC Win's MarCom Platinum Award, The Organization's Top Honor, For 2005 Annual Report

MarCom Creative Awards announced winners for the 2006 international awards competition that recognizes outstanding achievement by marketing and communication professionals. Among the recipients of the coveted Platinum award was ECBC, for its 2005 Annual Report.

There were over 5,000 entries from throughout the United States and several foreign countries in the MarCom Creative Awards 2006 competition. About 15% of the entries won the Platinum Award, the organization’s top honor.


View ECBC 2005 Annual Report

Visit MarCom website


(November 29, 2006)

A suited up first responder dispersing All-Clear™ foam to a contaminated vehicleECBC's Enzyme-Based Decontamination Technology Featured in the 2007 FLC Calendar

A photo of a suited up first responder dispersing All-Clear™ foam to a contaminated vehicle is featured in the Federal Lab Consortium (FLC) 2007 Calendar.

The Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC) developed a patented technology to neutralize organophosphorus chemical agents and pesticides. This enzyme-based technology simplifies and improves the process of decontaminating a class of highly toxic chemicals, including nerve agents. Other decontamination methods use corrosive chemicals that are more costly, less efficient, and generate a substantial amount of residue waste.

ECBC partnered with Genencor International, Inc. to manufacture this licensed enzymatic decontamination technology, which is trademarked and known as DEFENZ™. DEFENZ™ is now on the market and available to companies that produce and sell firefighting foams and sprays. All-Clear™, developed by Kidde Fire Fighting Inc, is the first commercially available decontaminant that incorporates these enzymes developed by ECBC. All-Clear™ neutralizes agents without harmful effects on sensitive apparatuses like landing gear and brake assemblies, and has proved to be non-corrosive in Boeing Series Corrosion testing.

(November 20, 2006)

ECBC Engineers with the MCVECBC ships the second of four mine clearing surrogate vehicles it is building for deploying warfighters in training at the National Training Center

Last week Edgewood Chemical Biological Center shipped the second of four mine clearing surrogate vehicles it is building for deploying warfighters in training at the National Training Center. Authentic mine clearing vehicles are urgently needed in the theater of war in Operation Iraqi Freedom and manufacturers are shipping the vehicles overseas as quickly as they can be built, leaving none available for training the warfighters who are preparing for deployment.

Working with the Army's Rapid Equipping Force, ECBC engineers found another solution -- to modify a readily accessible vehicle to meet the unit's training needs. Using an M923A2 5-ton cargo truck as the base, the surrogate was then fabricated to look like the real mine clearing vehicle from the outside and carefully engineering to accurately emulate its interior spaces. The surrogate has an operational articulated hydraulic arm and interior and exterior controls of the same manufacture as the authentic mine clearing vehicle.

MG Nadeau, Commander, Research Development and Engineering Command, was on hand to witness the second of four mine clearing surrogates to be shipped to the NTC. Just 40 days after requesting the surrogate vehicles, the first one was delivered July 18, 2006 and the second was shipped from Aberdeen Proving Ground July 21st. Two more are in production and will be completed in August. MG Nadeau recognized the team's accomplishments stating that "Your success is a monumental home run."

ECBC's mission is to develop chemical and biological defense technology for the warfighter and for homeland security applications. In order to fulfill this mission, ECBC has grown a robust capability in engineering design and is particularly equipped to respond to urgent needs, often fielding new equipment in weeks.

(July 27, 2006)

Harford County Curriculum Development CommitteeECBC works with Harford County Public Schools to develop new curriculum in Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness

Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC) is working with the Harford County Public Schools to develop a new curriculum in Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. ECBC, in conjunction with EAI Corporation in Abingdon, hosted a two-day workshop July 6-7 at the Edgewood Area of Aberdeen Proving Ground to familiarize teachers and administrators with the issues and information related to terrorism and emergency response. Participants were introduced to critical incident response concepts and toured several research laboratories and engineering facilities.

ECBC was selected to serve on the Harford County Program Advisory Committee for the development of this first-in-the-nation high school curriculum in Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, a program that will be piloted at Joppatowne High School. ECBC helped conduct a needs assessment, establish the Homeland Security Sciences Program Sequence and identified courses of instruction that would be taught under this sequence. ECBC also helped obtain program approval and secure funding for this pioneering effort. Because of its involvement in this program, ECBC was also selected to serve on a Maryland State Department of Education advisory council and was invited to participate at the national level working with the Department of Education.

Once students complete the required coursework, they will be able to fill critical positions within the Harford County area to include ECBC and APG as well as supporting contractor infrastructure.

“We’re pleased to be able to lend our expertise in the area of homeland security and emergency preparedness to the school system,” said Mary Doak, ECBC program manager for the curriculum development project. “This is a completely unique program that may serve as a model for other school systems. Right now ECBC is making an investment in the community. And we hope that in a few years, this program will have developed a group of knowledgeable experts groomed for employment at Aberdeen Proving Ground.”

(July 7, 2006)

ECBC Releases FY 2005 Annual Report

ECBC FY 2005 Annual Report Edgewood Chemical Biological Center's (ECBC) Annual Report highlighting 2005 technical achievements is now available online. You will see that our achievements span the entire materiel life cycle from research to demilitarization. While activities ensuring our warfighter has the equipment to fight, survive and win on a chemical biological battlefield dominated 2005, ECBC also made important contributions in support of non-proliferation, counter proliferation and consequence management.

To request a hard copy please email ecbc-communications@apgea.army.mil.

(June 28, 2006)


eCYBERMISSIONEdgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC) is hosting 60 eCYBERMISSION students as well as 20 teachers and chaperones as they take part in an Army Enrichment Day at Aberdeen Proving Ground Tuesday, June 20th. These students represent the most intelligent and technologically innovative children in the world. They are the regional winners of the eCYBERMISSION program from each of the 50 states and Department of Defense Territories to include Armed Forces Europe, Armed Forces Pacific, American Samoa, Guam, and Puerto Rico. These regional winners will be flown to Washington, DC to compete for the national eCYBERMISSION award.

eCYBERMISSION is a Web-based competition organized by the Army’s Research, Development and Engineering Command that rewards students in grades six through nine for solving problems in their communities using science, math and technology. This year, 1,111 teams, comprised of 4,035 students, submitted their research to the Army for judging.

Last year’s sixth grade national winning team from Kennedy Middle School in St. Clair Shores, Michigan dealt with their community’s concern with the growing epidemic of West Nile Virus. Addressing the overpopulation of mosquitoes, the team set out to find a way to control the growing number of mosquitoes and contain the spread of West Nile. The team found that bats consume large amounts of mosquitoes. They then built bat houses to attract bats and control the mosquito population. The team then publicized their solution through local newspapers and by creating an awareness video.

This year’s student will be greeted by ECBC Director Jim Zarzycki and tour the Berger Laboratory. There they will learn about computer aided drafting and design, conceptual design and prototyping, engineering, and manufacturing. Additionally the National Science Center will have its 18-wheeler-Mobile Discovery Center parked behind the lab for the students.

Through eCYBERMISSION, the U.S. Army has awarded more than $2.5 million in prize money in support of the science, math and technology leaders of tomorrow. Since its inception four years ago, over 25,000 students have participated in the competition.

(June 13, 2006)


5th Army WMD Civil Support Teams Receive Training at ECBC

5th Army WMD Civil Support Teams Receive Training at ECBCThis month Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC) is supporting the 5th Army in providing intensive training in chemical and biological incident management to four National Guard Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Teams. The teams, who traveled here from Delaware, New Hampshire, Vermont and Washington D.C., are receiving chemical and biological defense classroom instruction as well as training on the use and capabilities of incident response and laboratory equipment.

The teams are being trained using four scenarios involving the supposed use of weapons of mass destruction. The scenarios are being acted out at three locations on Aberdeen Proving Ground and one just off post property. To construct the scenarios, ECBC experts used current hazard and intelligence information. Each one has been developed to presumably involve a chemical, biological, radiological agent in a clandestine environment that will require the team to utilize all equipment and personnel. The ECBC training team also provided classroom instruction on the history of chemical biological warfare, properties and characteristics of chemical agents, recognizing drugs versus chemical or biological materials, improvised dispersal devices, industrial agents and topics on laboratory and sampling methods. Instruction has been provided by ECBC subject matter experts.

Right now, 32 states have National Guard Civil Support Teams, and another 23 teams are in the process of forming. Each 22-person team is designed to augment "first response" agencies and must be prepared to deploy within 90 minutes of notification in response to a man-made or natural event causing massive destruction to lives or property within the United States or its territories. They are designed to provide assistance to a local incident commander in determining the nature and extent of an attack or incident; providing expert technical advice on response operations; and helping to identify and support the arrival of follow-on state and federal military response assets. They also support local and state authorities at domestic incident sites by identifying agents and substances, assessing current and projected consequences, advising on response measures, and assisting with requests for additional military support.

(May 12, 2006)

ECBC Decontamination Technology Wins Prestigious Award

Enzymatic DeconA decontamination technology developed by the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC) was named a winner of the prestigious 2006 Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer.

The new technology, called "Enzyme-Based Decontamination Technology for Organophosphorus Nerve Agents and Pesticides," is an enzyme-based catalytic decontaminant for chemical warfare agents and toxic industrial chemicals. Designed for military use in combat and in operations other than war, ECBC's enzymatic decontamination system is unique because it is non-toxic and environmentally safe, a significant difference from caustic chemical decontamination solutions of the past. The system is dual use, as it can be employed in military operations as well as in civilian first responder and homeland defense situations. In an incident where highly toxic chemicals are released, the enzymes quickly neutralize the chemicals before the contamination spreads.

The substance is stored as a dry powdered concentrate that is activated when combined with available water. It can then be applied to any water-tolerant surface with existing military or civilian spray or foam systems. No rinsing is required, which reduces both the time and amount of water needed to effectively decontaminate.

Because of improved logistics in storage and transporting the enzymes, fire fighters, HAZMAT personnel, and other first responders will be able to more quickly, safely, and effectively respond to an intentional or accidental release of chemical or biological contaminants that threaten public safety and homeland security.

ECBC patented this technology and licensed it to Genencor International, Inc., who licensed the technology and now manufactures the enzymatic decontamination technology under the trademark DEFENZT.

"We are pleased that important technologies such as enzymatic decontamination are being recognized as important contributions to our nation's defense," said Mr. Jim Zarzycki, ECBC Technical Director.

The award is sponsored by the Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer. The ECBC inventors will be honored at an award ceremony, which will take place on May 3rd in Minneapolis.

(February 15, 2006)


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