While Ebola might not be in the news at the level it was in 2014, it is still a significant health issue in Africa. In fact, the second deadliest Ebola outbreak in history is actively ongoing in the Democratic Republic of the Congo now.
Battelle continues to support the fight against the disease by providing training in-country. Recently, two Battelle employees traveled to the Democratic Republic of the Congo for 16 days, representing the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).
During the trip, they provided training at the Institut National de Recherche Biomédicale in Kinshasa, the nation’s capital. Battelle staff taught Congolese researchers how to conduct serologic assays to detect immune response to Ebola virus in vaccinated and exposed individuals, as well as disease survivors.
The team also led trainings for local response workers who may deploy to multiple field laboratories near the outbreak on the eastern side of the country, close to the Ugandan border. These trainings covered use of containment laboratory personal protective equipment and mobile containment units for laboratory support of the first ever randomized controlled trial to evaluate medical countermeasures in the treatment of Ebola virus disease.
While this trip to the Democratic Republic of the Congo adds a new country to Battelle’s portfolio of experience, providing on-site support in Africa has been a part of Battelle’s work for several years. The 10 Battelle employees on the NIAID Integrated Research Facility (IRF) response team regularly deploy for up to a month at a time to various countries, including Liberia, Guinea, Mali and Angola.
In each of these countries, they provide a suite of trainings to local African staff on how to respond to outbreak scenarios. The training gives participants the opportunity to practice with instruments and procedures they’ll use in an outbreak setting, building capacity locally.
This work has been effective in preparing and equipping local staff in these countries to take on greater responsibilities during their own health response activities. Since their first deployments during the West African Ebola virus disease outbreak, the team has continuously supported National Institutes of Health’s Partnership for Research on Ebola Virus in Liberia (PREVAIL) clinical trials and the establishment of a research laboratory in Liberia.
Battelle employees have trained Liberian staff in all aspects of running a research laboratory, with emphasis on safety practices. Liberians and Americans have worked together to conduct laboratory testing evaluating the efficacy of Ebola virus vaccines and monitoring survivors of Ebola virus disease and their close contacts. Local staff are now responsible for operating many aspects of the laboratory independently.
When the Battelle team is in the United States, they continue to fight Ebola from the IRF at Fort Detrick in Maryland. Conducting research in the IRF’s Biosafety Level 4 (BSL-4) laboratory, the team develops field laboratory diagnostics for high consequence pathogens, in preparation for future disease outbreaks. Working alongside fellow IRF researchers who conduct studies to characterize pathogens and evaluate countermeasures, the team is able to meet real-world clinical needs.
Every day, the people of Battelle apply science and technology to solving what matters most. At major technology centers and national laboratories around the world, Battelle conducts research and development, designs and manufactures products, and delivers critical services for government and commercial customers. Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio since its founding in 1929, Battelle serves the national security, health and life sciences, and energy and environmental industries.
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