2021 | Coronavirus

Global pandemic center will be in Rockville medical office building

County Council approved $500,000 for project earlier this year

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Logo from Connected DMV

A global center focusing on pandemic prevention and biodefense work will be in Rockville, county officials and partners in the project said Wednesday.

Connected DMV, a nonprofit that focuses on initiatives with government, private industry academia and community partners, will launch the center.

It will be at the U.S. Pharmacopeia office at 12601 Twinbrook Parkway.

County Executive Marc Elrich told reporters Wednesday that the building is already science-focused and near Metro stations, and will be near the National Institutes of Health and The Universities at Shady Grove. 

Elrich didn’t know how many employees might work there. He said it will not be a “permanent location” for research, as the federal government is searching for much more space for a larger pandemic center, to conduct that research and have enough room for labs. 

Montgomery County is also home to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration headquarters, research labs and companies that developed COVID-19 vaccines.

In May, the County Council approved $500,000 to develop the project, but the site was not chosen yet.

Rich Bendis, founder and CEO of nonprofit BioHealth Innovation, one of the project partners, previously told Bethesda Beat that about $2.5 million from public and private sources was needed for a six-month strategic phase, which includes staffing, consulting, supplies and other planning costs.

The Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation said in a news release that the center’s goal is to prevent future virus outbreaks from becoming pandemics “by developing a stockpile of human monoclonal antibodies in advance for emerging infectious diseases and by integrating antibody distribution and delivery across the global health and pandemic prevention ecosystem.”

Stu Solomon, the president & CEO of Connected DMV, said in a prepared statement that the center will use those antibodies and be rigorous in trying to help prevent future pandemics.

“Working together, the Center will deliver an ambitious, medical countermeasures program (AHEAD100) that aims to develop and stockpile monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) for the world’s top 100 pathogens across the 25 pathogen families most likely to cause future pandemics while also driving equitable economic growth in the DMV,” Solomon said in the statement.

Steve Bohnel can be reached at steve.bohnel@bethesdamagazine.com