Source:  Physics Today | David Kramer | April 28, 2020

The agency has set up a single point of contact for gaining access to national laboratories’ COVID-19 experts and research tools

As director of the Office of Science at the US Department of Energy since 2018, Chris Fall oversees most of the 17 national laboratories. Today the assets of those labs have become focused largely on the worldwide effort to counter the SARS-CoV-2 virus (see Physics Today, May 2020, page 22). Under the CARES Act, signed into law on 27 March, national laboratories administered by the Office of Science received $99.5 million in immediate funding for coronavirus research and user facility operations.

On 16 April, DOE announced the formation of the National Virtual Biotechnology Laboratory. The NVBL is designed to be a clearinghouse for coronavirus-related access to DOE experts and user facilities, which include light and neutron sources, nanoscale science centers, sequencing and bio-characterization facilities, and high-performance computing assets. The virtual lab’s computing, diagnostics, epidemiology, and other teams are tied into a national task force run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

A neuroscientist, Fall previously was acting director of DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy. He spent seven years at the Office of Naval Research, from which he was on loan for three years to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

PT: How will the NVBL work? If I am a researcher who needs research tools or wants to develop models of the outbreak, what should I do?

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