UNMC’s biosecurity teams – working with the National Strategic Research Institute at the University of Nebraska (NSRI), Nebraska Medicine and Indiana University, Bloomington – have been busy this year conducting military research and training exercises for the Department of Defense (DoD) and also providing training for civilian responders from across the nation.
Dr. John Lowe, assistant vice chancellor for interprofessional health security training and education at UNMC and assistant professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Public Health has led a team of 11 investigators from Nebraska, Indiana, and NSRI over the past 12 months evaluating the United States Air Mobility Command’s Transport Isolation System (TIS).
Funded by a $1.1 million contract from the DoD, the team reviewed equipment and procedures used to airlift patients in isolation systems. Recently, during a flight from North Charleston, S.C., to Offutt Air Force Base, the team worked with the 628th Medical Group at Joint Base Charleston and the 375th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron from Scott Air Force Base, Ill.
“UNMC and our partners are uniquely suited to conduct the complex systems-based research required by the U.S. Air Force to enhance infectious disease response,” Dr. Lowe said. “The Air Force’s commitment to building and maintaining infectious disease response aligns with UNMC’s mission to advance global health security.”
The TIS is an enclosure the DoD designed to safely transport patients with highly contagious diseases and was engineered and implemented after the Ebola virus outbreak in 2014.
Dr. Lowe is on the executive council for the Global Center for Health Security at UNMC. The interdisciplinary council leads the development and coordination of health security training and education, clinical research and basic research. He also leads the coordination of existing health security training programs, including the National Ebola Training and Education Center, the National Center for Health Security and Biopreparedness and the Biosafety Infectious Disease Training Consortium.
Dr. Shawn Gibbs, who was the former associate dean for student affairs at the UNMC College of Public Health, was part of the original UNMC biocontainment team before becoming executive associate dean of public health at Indiana University.
“This unique partnership between the U.S. Air Force and its academic partners has the potential to help redefine capabilities for aeromedical evacuation of highly infectious patients,” he said.
“This program will add another and more robust tool for the U.S. Air Force to support DoD assets as they respond to future needs associated with highly infectious disease outbreaks, while maintaining the safety of the crew members and our communities.”