The federal government has awarded nine contracts for the advanced research and development of portable devices that can enable first responders in the field to test for radiation absorption. This would help to quickly determine the most appropriate treatment for patients exposed to ionizing radiation.

The contracts, totaling $35 million for the first year and up to $400 million five years, come from the Department of Health and Human Services' Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. Each contractor has identified particular physical or biological characteristics, or biomarkers, to indicate how much radiation a person has absorbed. Contractors during the first year will test the accuracy of the biomarkers and the ability of their own proposed devices to effectively measure the biomarkers.

Contractors then will develop prototypes of portable in-field devices. The devices will be used in a clinical study with the goal of obtaining Food and Drug Administration marketing approval.

Contracts were awarded to Arizona State University in Tempe; Chromologic LLC in Pasadena, Calif.; Duke University in Durham, N.C.; Meso Scale Diagnostics LLC in Gaithersburg, Md.; Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems in Linthicum, Md.; SRI International in Menlo Park, Calif.; Stanford (Calif.) University; University of Rochester in New York; and Visca LLC in Troy, Mich.

The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority is within the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response. More information is available at hhs.gov/aspr.

--Joseph Goedert

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