The National Bio and Agro-defense Facility (NBAF) is designed to protect U.S. livestock from foreign animal diseases (FADs), including zoonotic FADs that can pose significant threats to human health as well. NBAF will replace the antiquated Plum Island Animal Disease Center (PIADC), Plum Island, NY, a facility unsafe for zoonotic FAD research. The most recent list of FADs likely to be worked on in NBAF when it opens is shown below.
NBAF will be the first biocontainment facility in the U.S. where research with BSL-4 agents (zoonotic pathogens for which no treatments exist) can be done with livestock. Nipah and Ebola are two such viruses on the list.
With the arrival of Ebola patients in the U.S. in 2014, America was introduced to the nightmare realities of hemorrhagic infectious diseases. However, that was actually predated by an Ebola outbreak in a monkey coloney in Reston, VA in 1989. The pathogen was identified initially as Ebola Zaire that kills 90% of people it infects, but luckily, it turned out to be a nearly identical genetic variant − now known as Ebola Reston − that hasn't killed people to date. Nonetheless, with the discovery of Ebola Reston in pigs in the Philippines in 2008, a critical question NBAF can answer is whether pigs could serve as a host for Ebola Zaire and other zoonotic variants.
"The Hot Zone" − a bestselling book by Richard Preston in 1995 − publicized the Reston event, and in 2019, National Geographic turned it into a television miniseries. As noted in the graphic below, two Kansas State University (KSU) veterinarians, Nancy and Jerry Jaax, were key first responders to the monkey colony Ebola outbreak when they were with the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases. (USAMRIID)
The other NBAF BSL-4 pathogen, Nipah virus, inspired the 2011 fictional account "Contagion", in which person-to-person transmission of the virus was enhanced dramatically for the movie. Nipah was first identified in pigs in Malaysia in the late 1990s where more than 150 people and a million pigs died.
The bio/agrodefense research activities for NBAF are driven by the requirements of Homeland Security Presidential Directive/HSPD-9, Defense of United States Agriculture and Food, January 30, 2004. Click here for a 2-page HSPD-9 overview. Additional public policy information can be found on the "About (the facility and U.S. bio/agrodefense policy)" page of this website.
Five years prior to HSPD-9 being written, KSU had delineated the need to protect American agriculture – crops, livestock – and food from global biothreats in a 100-page Homeland Defense Food Safety, Security and Emergency Preparedness Program. The requirement to build biocontainment laboratories to confront these threats was highlighted. That same year, the KSU President testified before the U.S. Senate’s Emerging Threats Subcommittee regarding the Agricultural Biological Weapons Threat facing America. Few in the U.S. were concerned about these threats at the time.
KSU’s Biosecurity Research Institute, or BRI, at Pat Roberts Hall was called for in the 1999 “Big Purple Book” as it became known and BRI construction was completed in 2007. That allowed research planned for NBAF to be jump started in the BRI when $35 million for FAD research was committed by the State of Kansas as part of its “best and final offer” for NBAF in 2008. Work began on the zoonotic foreign animal disease RVF in 2013 and JE in 2014; it expanded to the non-zoonotic threats CSF and ASF in 2015 and 2016, respectively. R&D continues in the BRI on all of these FADs which is helping to train the biocontainment workforce of the future for NBAF and elsewhere.
Numerous university, state and federal organizations have partnered to help NBAF transition to Kansas. These collaborators are providing valuable resources and expertise as the facility becomes operational.
Biosecurity Research Institute
The Biosecurity Research Institute is a biosafety level-3 facility that provides scientists with a safe and secure location to study high-consequence pathogens affecting plants, animals and food products. The institute is jump-starting some of the research planned for NBAF.
National Agricultural Biosecurity Center
The National Agricultural Biosecurity Center administers programs that help protect America’s food supply and address the preparation and response to threats involving the agricultural economy. The center unites biosecurity researchers with federal, state and local agencies to provide a response to emerging agricultural threats.
K-State Research and Extension
K-State Research and Extension is a partnership between Kansas State University and federal, state and county government, with offices in every Kansas county. K-State Research and Extension is dedicated to a safe, sustainable, competitive food and fiber system and to strong, healthy communities, families and youth through integrated research, analysis and education.
Kansas State University Institute for Commercialization
The Kansas State University Institute for Commercialization is dedicated to the start-up and expansion of technology-based, high-growth enterprises and enables the commercialization of university and underutilized corporate intellectual property.
The university's Olathe campus is a leader of adaptable, interdisciplinary and innovative education, research and public/private engagement in the Kansas City area. It is bridging the university with global and local community, government and industry partners.
State and regional collaborators
Kansas Department of Agriculture
In June 2014, the Kansas Department of Agriculture moved its headquarters to the university's research park, which is adjacent to NBAF. The new location builds collaboration on research, agricultural issues affecting the state and joint outreach to the Kansas agricultural community.
Kansas City Animal Health Corridor
Kansas State University and Manhattan help anchor the world’s largest concentration of animal health companies that stretches from Columbia, Mo., to Manhattan. These animal health companies in the Kansas City Animal Health Corridor generate more than a third of the global sales for the $19 billion animal health industry.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases
The Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases develops countermeasures for emerging high-priority animal diseases that can spread to humans. The center partners with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
U.S. Department of Agriculture's Center for Grain and Animal Health Research
The Center for Grain and Animal Health Research is home to five research units in Manhattan. These units include: the Arthropod-Borne Animal Diseases Research Unit, the Engineering and Wind Erosion Research Unit, the Grain Quality and Structure Research Unit, the Hard Winter Wheat and Genetics Research Unit and the Stored Product Insect Research Unit.