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K-State Today

July 7, 2016

Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases occupies new office space at the K-State Office Park

Submitted by Joe Montgomery

CEEZAD location - KSU Foundation building

Officials of the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases, or CEEZAD, celebrated the opening of its new headquarters June 22 with an open house attended by stakeholders, collaborators and Kansas State University officials.

Juergen Richt, Regents distinguished professor, diagnostic medicine and pathology at Kansas State University and director of CEEZAD, welcomed the dignitaries at an evening reception at the offices, which are in the K-State Office Park. The building, which also is home to the KSU Foundation, opened in fall 2015.

CEEZAD is a Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence established in 2010 with a focus on the protection of the nation's agricultural and public health sectors against high-consequence foreign animal, emerging and zoonotic disease threats. Although it has a broad mission, CEEZAD scientists concentrate their efforts in four principal areas:

• Development of novel, DIVA-compatible vaccine platforms for prevention and control of high-impact emerging and zoonotic diseases that can be manufactured in the U.S.
• Development and expansion of technologies and platforms for laboratory and point-of-need detection of emerging pathogen threats.
• Development of models to predict high-consequence disease behavior in the U.S. in order to aid prevention and outbreak control.
• Development of sustainable education and training programs for students, veterinarians, first responders and researchers in high-impact animal diseases.

Richt welcomed participants with a clear message that CEEZAD's mission would be enhanced in its new headquarters.

"As you take it in today, I'm sure you will agree with me that it is a fine, modern facility, fully appropriate for carrying forward the center's mission of making America, and the world, safer," Richt said.

Richt noted that CEEZAD has, since its inception, researched efforts to enhance biodefense capabilities via threat awareness, vulnerability assessments, surveillance and detection, as well as response and recovery.

"We conduct research, develop technology and train a specialized workforce to help defend U.S. agricultural systems against agroterrorism and other catastrophic events caused by high-threat transboundary, emerging and zoonotic pathogens," Richt said.

Accomplishments cited by Richt to date:

• Development of a novel, DIVA-compatible vaccine for Rift Valley Fever Virus. This vaccine, currently undergoing commercial scale-up, would allow for a diagnostic assay to differentiate infected from vaccinated animals, an important component of outbreak control.
• Development of Rift Valley Fever mitigation strategies. Using mosquito population surveillance data, climate data and simulation models of Rift Valley Fever transmission in cattle, CEEZAD and its research partners developed an early warning model system and testing efficient mitigation strategies for potential Rift Valley Fever outbreaks in the U.S., including the effects of mosquito control and livestock movement regulations.
• Development of a vaccine against Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Virus, or HPAIV. Researchers supported by CEEZAD have developed live and inactivated Newcastle Disease virus-vectored vaccine candidates that protect chickens against H7N9, H5N1, and novel H5N2 avian influenza virus challenges.
• Development of a vaccine candidate for African Swine Fever.
• Development of a multiplex pathogen detection system. Scientists at Columbia University and K-State are developing MassTag multiplex PCR technology to rapidly screen laboratory samples for up to 25 pathogens simultaneously. This technology has been recently licensed to a commercial entity.
• Improvements in Point-Of-Care Diagnostics. CEEZAD, K-State and federal researchers are working with industry partners to develop and market a portable diagnostic assay, called PockIt, capable of detecting Rift Valley Fever virus, foot-and-mouth-disease virus, and African Swine Fever virus in field settings.

"As we open and occupy these new offices, you can be assured that our efforts in all of these regards will continue and intensify," Richt said in closing. 

These efforts are wholly or in part supported by the U. S. Department of Homeland Security under the Center of Excellence of Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases grant award number 2010-ST061-AG0001.