$9M to Preempt Zoonotic Spillover Threats, Protect Military and Local Communities

Mastomys rat
The first phase of the PREEMPT project involves collecting and testing samples from Mastomys rats, a widespread local rodent in Sierra Leone and known reservoir for Lassa virus. The virus causes Lassa fever, an acute viral hemorrhagic illness endemic throughout West Africa.

Predicting the emergence of highly pathogenic viruses in animals and preventing them from spilling over to humans is the goal of a multi-million-dollar cooperative agreement from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) with collaborating researchers at the University of California, Davis; the University of Idaho; and Plymouth University in England.

The up-to $9.37 million award will be used over three and a half years as part of DARPA’s Preventing Emerging Pathogenic Threats (PREEMPT) program. PREEMPT seeks to improve medical preparedness, bolster the fight against emerging infectious disease and preserve the health of U.S. troops and communities around the world by containing high-risk zoonotic pathogens at their animal source.

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