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New commander, focus coming to Army’s Md. biodefense lab

FREDERICK — The Army’s flagship biodefense laboratory at Fort Detrick is getting a new commander and a new focus.

Col. Thomas Bundt assumes command Monday of the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick. He succeeds Col. Erin Edgar, who left for medical reasons earlier this summer. The deputy commander, Col. Brian Gentile, has been acting commander in Edgar’s absence.

The Frederick News-Post reports that the institute is moving away from its longtime focus on vaccine development and toward the development of new drugs to combat disease outbreaks.

For example, the lab is helping develop multiple products aimed at treating Ebola. They include the experimental therapeutic drug ZMapp. The drug was given to U.S. health care workers infected with Ebola in Africa last year.