Laboratory Response Network Partners

The Laboratory Response Network (LRN) is also a partnership between government and private organizations that have a stake in biological threats and chemical preparedness. CDC runs the program with directions and recommendations provided by the following agencies and organizations.

Federal Partners

Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)External

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
    CDC is recognized as the lead federal agency for protecting the health and safety of people—at home and abroad—providing sound science and credible information to enhance health decisions, and promoting health through strong partnerships. CDC serves as the national focus for developing and applying disease prevention and control, environmental health, and health promotion and education activities designed to improve the health of the people of the United States. The Laboratory Response Network (LRN) is one component of CDC’s overall mission to combat emerging infectious disease. A significant part of its effort includes strengthening local, state, and national public health laboratory capacity in response to acts and threats biological and chemical terrorism.
  • Food and Drug Administration (FDA)External
    The FDA is responsible for protecting the public health by assuring the safety, efficacy, and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, medical devices, our nation’s food supply, and cosmetics. Food safety and security are key components of the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002. The LRN works with the joint USDA-FDA administered laboratory network for food security, the Food Emergency Response Network (FERN).
  • Department of Agriculture (USDA)External
    The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) laboratory in Ames, Iowa, in collaboration with the veterinary diagnostic laboratory community, act as a reference and sentinel laboratories for the detection of zoonotic agents, organisms that can cause diseases affecting both animals and humans. The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Services laboratories also act as reference and sentinel laboratories for agents that may be found in meat, poultry and egg products.
  • Department of Defense (DoD)External
    The DoD contributes scientific expertise at the LRN’s national laboratory level through the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) in Fort Detrick, Maryland, and the Naval Medical Research Center (NMRC) in Bethesda, Maryland. Other military laboratories also serve as LRN reference laboratories.
  • Department of Energy (DOE)External
    When the LRN was launched in 1999, the DOE shared expertise from its national laboratories. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in Livermore, California, is an applied-science national security laboratory operated by the University of California. LLNL continues to work with the LRN through the recently created Science and Technology Directorate, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security. Its contributions include the co-development of pathogen detection methods using their unique genomics capabilities and operational experience. LLNL is working with the other government agencies responsible for counterterrorism activities, assessing U.S. capabilities, developing technologies to address vulnerabilities, and participating in counterterrorism drills, exercises and operations.
  • Department of Homeland Security (DHS)External
    The DHS mandate is to unify the vast number of government organizations and institutions for the purpose of securing the homeland. The LRN and DHS have been working together, along with the Environmental Protection Agency on an environmental surveillance program called BioWatch, an air-monitoring effort taking place in a number of large cities across the country. BioWatch air samplers provide 24-hour monitoring of densely-populated areas. Samples are transported to LRN laboratories where they are analyzed using rapid DNA-matching technology to detect the presence of a number of threat agents.

Department of Justice (DOJ)External

  • Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)External
    The LRN is a unique collaboration between law enforcement and public health. The FBI brought its forensic expertise and requirements to the program. A partnership between public health and law enforcement is a prerequisite to the program’s response to a chemical or biological attack. Because public health and law enforcement have overlapping approaches and goals to their investigations, it is important that public health workers, such as epidemiologists, and law enforcement officials collaborate to both enhance and protect the integrity of their investigations.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)External
Because of its inherent role in protecting human health and the environment from possible harmful effects of certain chemical, biological, and nuclear radiochemical materials, EPA is actively involved in counterterrorism planning and response efforts. EPA is currently working with the LRN on laboratory-related issues and tests that will assist in monitoring our nation’s drinking water. In addition, the agency is a key component in BioWatch, a program that monitors air in select cities for potential threat agents. EPA assists with air sample collection, provides the air samplers, and LRN laboratories perform the daily tests on collected samples.

Scientific Organizations

Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL)External
In 1999, APHL, the FBI, and CDC established the LRN to help laboratories across the country prepare for and respond to acts of biological terrorism. It was later expanded to include chemical terrorism. APHL provides guidance to state and local public health laboratories across the country and helps to coordinate state and local public health laboratories for the LRN.

American Society for Microbiology (ASM)External
ASM has been instrumental in the development of sentinel-level laboratory testing protocols for the detection biothreat agents. Along with CDC and APHL, ASM serves as a resource for training and education for microbiologists in private and public health laboratories. ASM also educates and trains those in hospital-based and commercial laboratories regarding their roles and responsibilities as sentinel laboratory members.

American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians (AAVLD)External
AAVLD is assisting CDC and the APHL in recruiting veterinary diagnostic labs as LRN reference laboratories to boost the network’s capacity to detect threat agents that can be shared by both animals and humans.

College of American PathologistsExternal
The College of American Pathologists (CAP), together with CDC is responsible for promoting the diagnostic capability and capacity of clinical and/or of State Public Health Laboratories by providing LRN sentinel and reference laboratories with the Laboratory Preparedness Exercise proficiency test. The Laboratory Preparedness Exercise (LPX), provided by CAP, is the only proficiency testing program of its kind; ensuring the capability of participating sentinel labs to rule out and refer biological threat agents to the LRN Reference laboratory.

Page last reviewed: April 10, 2019