Northrop Grumman wins NIH biodefense database work

Northrop Grumman Corp. won a five-year, $16.9 million contract to develop a database that will be used to centralize and integrate data for six pathogens that pose significant public health threats and could be used as bioterrorism agents, officials of the Los Angeles company said today.

The contract was awarded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health.

Under the contract, Northrop Grumman's Herndon, Va., IT sector will build a Web-compatible database that can collect and analyze genomic and related data, as well as bibliographic information. The database will give scientists a single access point for data about the six pathogens, according to Northrop Grumman.

"Our bioinformatics resource center database goes beyond biodefense by supporting other public health research," said Wood Parker, president of the IT sector's Federal Enterprise Solutions business unit. "It will be useful to a broader base of researchers investigating public health issues."

The database, called BioHealthBase, will focus on data about six priority pathogens to help fill in gaps in genomic and other data critical to scientific researchers, company officials said. The six pathogens are giardia lamblia (giardiasis) parasite; mycobacterium tuberculosis (TB) bacteria; influenza (flu) virus; entamoeba histolytica (amoebiasis) parasite; eight genera of microsporidia parasites; and ricinus communis (castor bean) plant.

The database structure will accommodate addition of other microorganisms, the company said.

Northrop Grumman IT also will build a scientific research resource that will include IT tools and a Web site for accessing the large amount of genomic and related data to support identification of potential targets for the development of vaccines, therapeutic treatments and diagnostics, and enable comparative analysis of genomes. The company also will create a data-analysis tool for the database.

Development work will be done at the Northrop Grumman facility in Rockville, Md., and at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. In addition to the university, other teammates on the contract include Vecna Technologies Inc. of College Park, Md., and AMAR-International Inc. of Fairfax, Va.

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