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Kansas State University
128 Dole Hall
Manhattan, KS 66506
785-532-2535
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Prepared by: Juergen A. Richt, Regents Distinguished Professor, K-State College of Veterinary Medicine, and one of the state's first Kansas Bioscience Eminent Scholars, 785-532-4401, jricht@vet.k-state.edu

Thursday, Dec. 18, 2008

K-STATE'S BIOSECURITY RESEARCH INSTITUTE AND THE NATIONAL BIO AND
AGRO-DEFENSE FACILITY WOULD MAKE POWERFUL RESEARCH TEAM

MANHATTAN -- On Wednesday Dec. 3, 2008, Associated Press reports indicated that the federal government had recommended Kansas State University the No. 1 site for the new $450 million National Bio and Agro-defense Facility, or NBAF laboratory. The NBAF would be the nation's premier site for the study of threats to our nation's livestock population.

It comes as no surprise that the Department of Homeland Security has recommended K-State as the No. 1 site for its most modern animal disease research facility. The NBAF will provide an opportunity for federal, national and international animal health researchers to tap into K-State's expertise and a well-educated student body to help fight the threat of exotic and endemic animal diseases.

With this announcement, Kansas State University has tremendous opportunities to excel in basic and translational research on foreign animal and zoonotic diseases. This was only possible because the State of Kansas has strong agricultural roots and is committed to food security and food safety.

Animal health is obviously central to achieve this goal. This commitment of the state of Kansas has resulted in the construction of the $54 million Biosecurity Research Institute at K-State in Manhattan, Kan. This state-of-the-art facility enables scientists to conduct research on pathogens which threaten the health of our nation's livestock population and citizens. The Biosecurity Research Institute is a testament to Kansas' commitment. It is part of a comprehensive scientific effort involving scientists -- many of whom are international experts -- who spend their time working directly on keeping the nation's food supply safe from biological threats.

Choosing K-State as the No. 1 site for the new federal research facility only solidifies this commitment. I am excited about having the chance to be part a scientific team like none other in the nation. With the new federal NBAF facility, the Biosecurity Research Institute, and Kansas State University -- soon all together -- the state of Kansas has unlimited possibilities in becoming a leader in research on foreign and zoonotic diseases of animals, not only within our nation but worldwide.

More importantly, the physical presence of these biocontainment facilities and animal health experts in Manhattan will ensure our nation's agricultural security for decades.

Establishing state-of-the-art research programs requires serious fiscal, intellectual and physical investments. K-State has the experience, resources and expertise to widely contribute to the establishment of a multi-faceted premier research enterprise to combat the world's most dangerous zoonotic and foreign animal diseases.

Not only will the new NBAF facility benefit the scientific community of Kansas and the nation, but it is also expected to generate 1,500 construction jobs and more critically 300 permanent jobs. The presence of NBAF with its workforce translates into an economic boost that could approach $30 million annually once the project is completed. This sustainable growth opportunity not only will benefit the people directly involved in this project, but indirectly the citizens of Manhattan and the surrounding communities.

Over the next several years, K-State will need to work very closely with the federal government to establish a plan capable of being executed immediately once the new research facility becomes fully functional in 2015. My previous federal service as a veterinary medical officer with USDA, while at the National Animal Disease Center in Ames, Iowa, will allow me to help bridge the gap between government and academia to ensure the best collaborative efforts. This collaboration is critical for the long-term safety of livestock in Kansas and across the nation. The NBAF laboratory will make Kansas a future international center for infectious disease and bioscience research. I am very proud and excited to be an integral part of this future.