Innovations In American Government Award
October 14, 1999 -PulseNet, the CDC's foodborne illness detection
system, was named one of 10 winners of the Innovations in American
Government Awards, the Ford Foundation announced today.
The program will receive a $100,000 award and recognition as one
of the nation's best examples of government performance.
are only 10 of the many cutting-edge strategies that government
employs to improve our daily lives," said Susan Berresford, president
of the Ford Foundation. "As programs like PulseNet are adopted
elsewhere, our government continues to become more efficient and
CDC developed the PulseNet program to help investigate and prevent
outbreaks of foodborne illness by sharing information about the
problem bacteria quickly. PulseNet laboratories detect outbreaks
by using a technique called pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE)
to "fingerprint" bacteria through their DNA. "Fingerprinting"
the DNA of bacteria allows labs to match disease-causing strains.
PulseNet has standardized the way labs trace bacteria, and has
taken the process a step further by digitizing the information
so that it can be shared electronically, similar to a bar code.
In the past, labs had to trade physical specimens to compare the
disease-causing bacteria, a process that took several days.
Now, scientists can access CDC's library of DNA "fingerprints,"
to find bacteria matches within minutes.
PulseNet helps to detect foodborne disease outbreaks faster than
ever before. Here are some ways PulseNet has helped identify
foodborne bacteria in the nationís food supply:
The U.S. food
supply is safer than it was three years ago because of the advances
the PulseNet system has made in the field of molecular epidemiology
and the heightened awareness of safety in the food industry.
As the PulseNet database of bacteria "fingerprints"
continues to expand, it keeps our food supply safer and reduces
the dangerous effects of foodborne illness outbreaks.
U.S. Department of Agriculture identified meat production
and processing practices that may lead to E. coli contamination
of the U.S. meat supply. The supply is now safer and
more tightly monitored.
was instrumental in detecting a 1998 outbreak of Listeria
infections that caused 21 deaths in several states and tracing
the bacteria to a large food processing plant in Michigan.
1998, PulseNet helped identify cases of Salmonella caused
by a strain found in some ready-to-eat toasted oat cereal.
are honored to be selected a winner of the Innovations in American
Government Award," stated Dr. Bala Swaminathan, Chief, Foodborne
& Diarrheal Diseases Laboratory Section. "This
recognition of PulseNet will help us spread the message of food
safety throughout the nation."
competition is rigorous. Beginning each January, approximately
1,500 program applications are reviewed by Harvard Universityís
John F. Kennedy School of Government, which administers the Innovations
program. Each program application is evaluated according
to four selection criteria: they must be novel, be effective,
solve a significant problem, and be replicable by other government
entities. In May, 100 semi-finalists are selected from this
pool of applicants, and in September 25 finalists are named.
Each finalist receives a $20,000 grant from the Ford Foundation.
these finalists assembled in Washington, D.C., all attempting
to convince the National Selection Committee that their program
best satisfies these four criteria and is deserving of the additional
$80,000 grant that goes to each winner. Today, David Gergen,
chairman of the National Selection Committee, announced the 10
all the opportunities technology now offers us, perhaps none is
greater than the chance to actually save lives," said Gergen.
"The CDC has built a nationwide network to contain the threat
of foodborne illness."
Innovations in American Government Awards program is funded by
the Ford Foundation and administered by the John F. Kennedy School
of Government at Harvard University in partnership with the Council
for Excellence in Government. Since the Ford Foundation
began granting Innovations Awards in 1986, over 85 percent of
the winning programs have been successfully replicated.
information on the Innovations in American Government Awards,
including the application for the 2000 awards competition, is
available at the Innovations
in American Government website.
Contact Chief, Laboratory Section, Foodborne & Diarrheal Diseases
National Center for Infectious Diseases
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
1600 Clifton Rd., Mail Stop C007
Atlanta, GA 30333
Phone: (404) 639-3669
to the Innovations
Winners Press Release List
to the Innovations
Innovations in American Government Program
An Awards Program of the Ford Foundation and
John F. Kennedy School of Government in partnership
with the Council for Excellence in Government
October 14, 1999
Alison Bender (202) 261-2875
Heather Wood (617) 495-0557