Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction: Academic Research Initiative (ARI)

The U. S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is committed to using cutting-edge technologies and scientific talent in its mission to make America safer.

On December 21, 2018, the Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Act of 2018, (Pub.



115-387) was signed into law,


amending the Homeland Security Act of 2002, to establish in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) the Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD) Office (CWMD) by consolidating the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) and a majority of the Office of Health Affairs (OHA).

The mission of CWMD is to counter attempts by terrorists or other threat actors to carry out an attack against the United States or its interests using a weapon of mass destruction, as well as to protect the United States its people, and interests, against other chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats.

The DHS CWMD Research and Development (R&D) appropriation provides resources necessary to identify, explore, and demonstrate new technologies and capabilities that will help enable the DHS and stakeholders to prevent, protect against, respond to, and mitigate nuclear, chemical, radiological, and biological threats and incidents.

The CWMD ARI program addresses the security, prevention and protection per the Presidential Policy Directive #8 (PPD-8) by seeking novel cross-cutting research that will enhance national security’s capability to detect and prevent the illicit entry, transport, assembly, or potential use within the United States of unauthorized chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear (CBRN) materials, devices or agents and otherwise help protect against an attack using such materials, devices, or agents.

Objectives The ARI Program has two primary objectives:
1) Engage the academic community to advance fundamental knowledge for CBRN sciences applicable to Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD) with emphasis on fundamental research to solve long-term, high-risk challenges; and 2) Develop human capital for the CBRN science and engineering professions.

Furthermore, the program works to sustain a long-term commitment to basic research in these fields and coordinates research efforts across the federal government.

Priorities Each grant application will be evaluated based on the criteria provided in Evaluation Criteria under the Application Review Information section.

The research topics in this announcement will address technical challenges in order to enable increased capability to detect, identify, and notify about CBRN threats.

The full solicitation research topics are listed in Appendix A.

Summaries of the topics are as follows:
· Topic Area 1 (TA-01):
MicroRNA as Biomarkers for Early Biothreat Detection:
Improve the understanding of microRNA (miRNA) as a tool in early detection and diagnosis of biothreats.

Focus areas may include research on how changes in miRNA packaging and/or expression levels can affect miRNA functionality, as well as whether individuals or animals exposed to biological agents have different expression profiles of circulating serum miRNA compared with controls.

Research should seek to use miRNA expression profiles towards development of early prediction, detection, diagnosis, and/or monitoring methods, of biothreats with focus on biological agents of security concern.

· Topic Area 2 (TA-02):
Chemical, Biological, or Radiological/Nuclear (CBRN) Area Detection and Analytics:
Develop a broad-area sensing array approach for CBRN threat detection and tracking before, during, and after a high-profile event.

Collect baseline data for application of analytical tools, during the present project and for future efforts.

Develop methods to detect and remediate induced bias in threat detection algorithms.

· Topic Area 3 (TA-03):
Technology Component Improvement for Neutron-Based Active Interrogation:
Develop advanced technology components for improvements of active interrogation systems using neutrons to detect threats such as special nuclear material (SNM), explosives, and illicit drugs for DHS applications.

Focus areas may include:
detection algorithms; specific software tools to support the detection algorithm; simulation and detection studies to inform advanced detector implementation; studies of threat material signatures; or determination of neutron source requirements.

Obtain Full Opportunity Text:

Additional Information of Eligibility:
Organization Limit.

The following listed below are organizations that are eligible and encouraged to submit a proposal: • Universities and Colleges.

Universities and two- and four-year colleges (including community colleges) accredited by a U. S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, and having a campus located in the U.S; • Organizations are referred to as academic institutions for the purposes of this Solicitation.

All non-academic institutions regardless of profit or non-profit status are ineligible to participate.

Full Opportunity Web Address:


Agency Email Description:

Agency Email:

Date Posted:

Application Due Date:

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