The Center for Advancing Microbial Risk Assessment (CAMRA) is a multidisciplinary Center of Excellence (COE) jointly funded through the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Headed jointly at Michigan State University (MSU) and Drexel University, CAMRA was formed to address knowledge gaps and concerns regarding microbial hazards associated with public health risks including the spread of infectious disease and bioterrorism which have been highlighted after the 2001 anthrax attacks in Washington DC and Florida as well as recent attention on the spread of H1N1 flu. CAMRA promotes the use of Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment (QMRA) to integrate medicine, biology, environmental processes, engineering ans mathematics as well as decision science to address the vast array of microbial risks and infectious diseases now facing our communities and the world in the 21st century.
CAMRA is tasked with developing the knowledge base through original research required in developing the most advanced and credible risk assessments for Biological Agents of Concern (BAC). In order to accomplish this CAMRA has focused its research efforts on the following main topics:
CAMRA is represented by scientists from Carnegie Mellon University, Drexel University, Michigan State University, Northern Arizona University, University of Arizona, University of California Berkeley, and University of Michigan. Based on the following structure, CAMRA is broken into five distinct projects which all communicate with each other in order to develop the most advanced tools for the risk assessment community.
While most microbes are harmless or beneficial, some are extremely dangerous – we call these biological agents of concern (BAC). All BAC can cause serious and often fatal illness, but they differ greatly in their physical characteristics, movement in the environment, and process of infection. Quantitative microbial risk assessment (QMRA) uses the best measurements about microbes’ behavior to identify where they can become a danger and estimate the risk (including the uncertainty in the risk) that they pose to human health.
QMRA has four stages, based on the National Accademy of Sciences framework for Quantitative Risk Analysis, but modifed to account for the properties of living organisms like BAC:
For a more thorough description of QMRA, see this Report to the European Commission by Gertjan Medema and Nicholas Ashbolt.
CAMRA investigators have developed twin missions:
Develop critically reviewed sets of models, tools and information, which are usable in a credible risk assessment framework. These frameworks will eliminate or reduce health impacts from infectious agents and deliberate BAC use for the indoor and outdoor environments.
Construct a national network for microbial risk assessment (MRA). Develop and institute knowledge management systems for learning and transfer of knowledge and information to the current community of scientists, students and professionals in MRA.
There are five major research projects which define the objectives and activities of CAMRA. Each project objective has been developed through collaborative efforts of scientists and is integrated via a management structure that facilitates interaction. These research projects addressed exposure, methods and models; dose-response; population outcomes; risk frameworks; and knowledge management, transfer and learning. Through these projects we have
Overall these projects have focused on assessment, lessons learned, new science and research, databases, tools and methods and finally knowledge building for learning and communication purposes. CAMRA continues to produce suites of tools and models for government officials and first responders to use as well as contribute to the research, education, and professional QMRA communities.
Charles P Gerba, University of Arizona email@example.com
Christopher Choi, University of Arizona firstname.lastname@example.org
Ian Pepper, University of Arizona email@example.com
Syed Hashsham, Michigan State University firstname.lastname@example.org
Paul Kleim, Northern Arizona University Paul.Keim@nau.edu
Mark Nicas, University of California, Berkeley email@example.com
William Nazaroff, University of California, Berkeley firstname.lastname@example.org
Rosina Weber, Drexel University email@example.com