Montana Public Radio

National Institutes of Health

The entrance at the Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Hamilton, MT.
National Institutes of Health - Public Domain

A federal government lab nestled in a town of 5,000 people in the Bitterroot Valley is responsible for finding the first vaccines for Rocky Mountain spotted fever, manufacturing the nation’s supply of yellow fever vaccines during World War II and helping to develop a lifesaving Ebola vaccine as the disease debilitated West Africa.

Now Rocky Mountain Labs is turning its attention to COVID-19.

Researcher Jay Evans leads a University of Montana team that was awarded $2.5 million in NIH funding to advance a COVID-19 vaccine candidate.
University of Montana

University of Montana researchers are working on a vaccination for COVID-19. The Center for Translational Medicine received $2.5 million in funding for the project from the National Institutes of Health.

Bill MacGregor and Janice Hogan are the vice president and coordinator of the Citizens Technical Environmental Committee in Butte, seen in this photo from June 6, 2018.
Nora Saks

Billie Richardson is chatting with customers at Suited For Success, a small non-profit thrift store she runs in Uptown Butte. Richardson is 74 years-old. She was raised here, and for a while, moved around.

"I’ve lived a lot of places but I always come back because this is home," says Richardson. "Butte’s the last best place.”

St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula.
Courtesy St. Patrick Hospital

Soon after patients with Ebola began receiving treatment in the United States, Missoula’s Providence St. Patrick hospital was identified as one of four hospitals nationwide that’s especially prepared to care for someone with Ebola. That’s because the National Institutes of Health’s Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Hamilton is nearby, and researchers there work with Ebola. St Patrick's says it has long been prepared to treat anyone who might get infected with Ebola or other dangerous pathogens there.