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Welcome to the Centers of Excellence

The DHS Centers of Excellence (COEs) are university-led research networks that anticipate threats and challenges to the homeland and operations. The COEs leverage their unique access to multidisciplinary expertise to conduct groundbreaking research resulting in rigorous, objective knowledge and solutions for DHS. Each COE works under a cooperative agreement that provides annual management and research funding over the duration of the award.

Providing Practical Homeland Security Solutions

Engineers in a lab

The Office of University Programs (OUP) makes it easy to access academia to conduct basic and applied research. COEs are university-led research and education assets that provide rigorous, objective research to help anticipate and combat challenges facing the Homeland Security Enterprise.

The COEs develop countermeasures, mitigation, and prevention approaches and technologies relevant to DHS missions.

The COEs are designed to:

  • Work with and complement DHS research and development programs, including federal laboratories’ homeland security research;
  • Take advantage of other related federally-sponsored research;
  • Provide outcomes useful to federal, state, and local governments, private sector, and international partners.

The COEs leverage extensive public and private networks, provide individualized services to DHS Components, assist with finding needed research and development (R&D) capabilities, and promote technology transfer, transition, and commercialization. COE partners include academic institutions; industry; national laboratories; DHS operational Components; S&T divisions; other federal agencies; state, local, tribal and territorial homeland security agencies; and first responders.

Active Centers of Excellence


OUP stresses technology/knowledge transfer, transition, and commercialization, all of which have led to the development of more than 200 targeted tools, technologies, and knowledge products. COE successes include:

Long Range Autonomous Underwater Vehicle

Researchers deploy a Long Range Autonomous Underwater Vehicle in the arctic

The Arctic Domain Awareness Center (ADAC) filed a Provisional Patent for its solution to enable the U.S. Coast Guard to detect and characterize oil spills in remote, cold regions. The technology will also enable responders to provide real-time situational awareness and decision support for disaster response and humanitarian assistance. Learn more.

Portable Bacterial and Viral Pathogen Detection 

Researcher demos Portable Bacterial and Viral Pathogen Detection device

The Cross-Border Threat Screening and Supply Chain Defense (CBTS) center has partnered with two biotechnology companies to create the Host Response Test System (HRTS), a pathogen-detection technology that quickly differentiates between bacterial and viral infections. Halfway through its development, this biosurveillance technology is positioned to help the federal government and healthcare and public health entities with current and future health-related security challenges. Find out more

Passive Acoustic Sensing and Border Security

Researcher deploy  Passive Acoustic Sensing technology into the water

Drug smugglers use ultralight and crewless aircraft to traffic drugs and other illicit contraband across remote U.S. water and land borders. The Maritime Security Center (MSC) patented passive acoustic sensor system can detect, track, and classify low-flying aircraft in areas not covered by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) radar systems. In July 2020, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents seized 145 pounds of methamphetamine dropped by aircraft near the US-Mexico border; MSC’s system could be used to assist CBP in future operations. Download report.  

Last Updated: 09/05/2023
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