ARMED FORCES RADIOBIOLOGY RESEARCH INSTITUTE (AFRRI)
BACKGROUND: AFRRI was established in 1961 and operated by the Defense Atomic Support Agency and the Defense Nuclear Agency through the Cold War. In 1993 it was realigned with USUHS. AFRRI is the most unique and most powerful radiobiological research institute in the world with 6 decades of active, robust, and outstanding support to the DOD through research, reach-back, and education. It is the only DOD medical R&D facility dedicated solely to nuclear and radiological defense currently working on a promising radiation countermeasure BIO 300 in the wake of the Ukraine conflict.
1. Return to operations of the US DOD’s only nuclear research reactor: After remaining non-operational for six years, the AFRRI 1.1 Megawatt nuclear research reactor resumed operations on July 25, 2022. The reactor can simulate the prompt gamma and neutron radiation emitted in the first minute of a nuclear detonation; thereby operationalizing vital research and simulation of future nuclear-conventional combined environment. It is an indispensable asset to the US nuclear enterprise in a future mixed field post nuclear detonation battle space.
2. Landmark collaboration with the US intelligence community: AFRRI Subject Matter Experts established the first interagency agreement with the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) under the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, pegged at $23 million over 5 years. IARPA sponsors AFRRI’s cutting-edge low-dose ionizing radiation and biodosimetry research in support of the national requirement to conduct such research.
3. AFRRI- a force multiplier in improving nuclear survivability in the arctic:
The Joint Project Manager for Protection under the Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Defense invited AFRRI to Anchorage Alaska to participate in the joint exercise Arctic Eagle Patriot 2022. AFRRI provided critical medical expertise in conducting radiological dry decontamination of personnel in a high-intensity combat scenario simulation in demanding Arctic winter conditions and extreme cold weather operational environments readying for a future arctic conflict with Russia or China.
4. Protecting astronauts on future manned missions to Moon & Mars: AFRRI has partnered with NASA to conduct research on the cosmic galactic radiation effects on long-duration future exploratory class missions sending astronauts to the Moon and Mars; studies not feasible at NASA’s Brookhaven Space Radiation National Laboratory.
5. Protecting homeland from an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) attack from a low orbital nuclear detonation: Since 2020, AFRRI has been conducting cutting edge experiments with Defense Threat Reduction Agency at White Sands Missile Range, assessing the vulnerability of medical equipment to an EMP attack from a rival nuclear power.
6. DOD Biodosimetry Center of Excellence: In response to the US Senate Report SR 114-63, AFRRI has received concurrence from DHA to establish the DOD's Biodosimetry Center of Excellence in which the focus is to perform laboratory-based radiation exposure assessments during potential nuclear mass casualty events.