Wins 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
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 more competitive."
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
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.
The 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.
PulseNet 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.
In 1998, PulseNet helped identify cases of Salmonella
caused by a strain found in some ready-to-eat toasted
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 winners.
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
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
National Center for Infectious Diseases
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
1600 Clifton Rd., Mail Stop C007
Atlanta, GA 30333
Phone: (404) 639-3669
information on PulseNet
to the Innovations
Winners Press Release List
to the Innovations
Innovations in American Government Program
An Awards Program of the Ford Foundation
and Harvard Universityís
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