Top brass at DOE are urging workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19, revealing that 10 employees have died from the coronavirus in just the last three weeks. Granholm applauded several companies and universities that manage a few of DOE’s 17 national laboratories for instituting vaccine mandates for employees, including UT-Battelle at ORNL in Tennessee.
An association recently recognized several EM contractors across the DOE complex with a variety of awards for safety, health, innovation, and outreach. The Voluntary Protection Programs Participants' Association (VPPPA), which helps worksites advance safety and health goals, honored contractors at the Oak Ridge site. UCOR established an in-house training program for radiological control technicians, which includes a 16-week onboarding period with classroom and on-the-job training. The end result has given UCOR 160 radiological control technicians who have the technical depth of knowledge to rotate between diverse cleanup projects at the Y-12 National Security Complex, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and East Tennessee Technology Park.
At the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis, UTRF entered into a hybrid agreement with Moderna to leverage technology, expertise and materials from UTHSC. This collaboration allows Moderna to better fight SARS-CoV-2 and evaluate its vaccine against new variants.
As the spread of COVID was ramping up in 2020, the Department of Energy launched the National Virtual Biotechnology Laboratory, or NVBL, program with funding from the U.S. government’s CARES Act and began shoring up teams from across DOE’s national laboratory system. The molecular design team took shape, bringing together experimental validation with computation. Within months, they offered five promising drug therapy approaches, each focusing on a unique aspect of the virus’s lifecycle. ORNL scientists contributed to this potential solution with computational data and experimentation. They also contributed to the design, synthesis and testing specific to the papain-like protease, a lesser studied but highly promising approach. The team also characterized the main protease through world-class crystallography and x-ray and neutron experiments by ORNL’s neutron scientists, plus performed inhibitor synthesis experiments at ORNL’s CNMS.
ORAU recently was awarded a contract by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Office of Minority Health and Health Equity (OMHHE) to provide technical communications support to the office and three COVID-19 award recipients.