HERNDON, Va., Aug. 10, 2004 (PRIMEZONE) -- Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) has been awarded a five-year, $16.9 million contract by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, to develop a database that will be used to centralize and integrate data for six pathogens that pose significant public health threats - and can potentially be used as bio-terrorism agents.
As part of this information technology (IT) contract, the company's IT sector will develop the web-based database to collect and analyze genomic and related data, as well as bibliographic information, providing a single access point for the scientific research community.
"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 comprehensive database, called BioHealthBase, will focus on six priority pathogens that will help fill in gaps in genomic and other data critical to scientific researchers. The six pathogens that will be hosted in the Northrop Grumman database include: giardia lamblia (giardiasis) parasite; mycobacterium tuberculosis (TB) bacteria; influenza (flu) virus; entamoeba histolytica (amoebiasis) parasite; microsporidia (eight genera) parasites; and ricinus communis (castor bean) plant.
The company chose pathogens that represent each of the three major classifications of microorganisms - bacteria, viruses, and parasites. The microorganism-independent database structure that will be developed will accommodate these different kinds of pathogens. The database structure will also allow the addition of other microorganisms in the future.
In addition to database development, Northrop Grumman IT will provide a scientific research resource, which will include IT tools and a website, for accessing the large amount of genomic and related data to support identifying potential targets for the development of vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics, as well as enable comparative analysis of genomes. The company will also establish and maintain a data-analysis tool for the database that provides standard and advanced analytical tools to assist researchers.
"Northrop Grumman will provide a solid solution that combines the methods of science and leading-edge information technology into a solid bioinformatics approach," said Michele Kang, vice president of Health Solutions for Northrop Grumman IT's Federal Enterprise Solutions business unit. "The goal for the BioHealthBase is to support both biodefense and public health."
Work will be performed at the Northrop Grumman facility in Rockville, Md., and at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (UTSMC) in Dallas, Texas. In addition to UTSMC, other teammates on the program include Vecna Technologies, College Park, Md., and AMAR-International, Inc., Fairfax, Va.
Northrop Grumman Information Technology, headquartered in Herndon, Va., is a trusted IT leader and premier provider of advanced IT solutions, engineering and business services for government and commercial clients. The company's technological leadership spans such areas as homeland security solutions, secure wireless, cyber and physical assurance, IT and network infrastructure, managed services, knowledge management, modeling and simulation, and geospatial intelligence solutions.
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