Colorado State University Spearheads New Biosecurity Institute

Colorado State University will use its renowned research expertise and statewide outreach network to directly address biosecurity issues including chemical, biological and nuclear threats emerging from the ongoing national battle against terrorism.

The Rocky Mountain Institute for Biosecurity Research at Colorado State will integrate the university’s research expertise in infectious diseases, plant and animal biological agents and atmospheric science under one umbrella organization to coordinate and plan projects to meet pressing national needs. The institute will tap into the university’s Cooperative Extension network, with offices in 58 Colorado counties, to monitor and assess possible threats and to disseminate information. Also, the institute will use Colorado State’s already strong ties with federal researchers located on and near the university campus to work on joint projects to provide important information to local, state and national leaders.

"Colorado State’s role as a research leader makes the creation of the institute the right course of action in response to the need for increased security, and we are uniquely positioned to fill this role in our region," said Tony Frank, vice president for research and information technology. "As the nation looks to use its resources wisely to address new challenges, state universities like Colorado State should and must play an important role."

The institute will include faculty experts in the fields of microbiology, engineering, communication and agriculture. The mission of the institute is to conduct, coordinate and communicate research to safeguard plants, animals and humans from chemical, biological and nuclear threats and to assist national efforts to deal with the threats from terrorism in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States and the war in Afghanistan.

Colorado State President Albert Yates recently visited Colorado’s congressional delegation in the nation’s capitol to gain feedback on the institute and to discuss the role that land-grant universities like Colorado State can play as part of the national response to the threat of terrorism. Members of the delegation expressed support for Colorado State’s plans.

U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard said: "This institute will capitalize on the important research being conducted at Colorado State and will join it with other security efforts being conducted across the state and nation. This is an opportunity for university research experts to work in conjunction with state and federal agencies to meet an unprecedented security challenge."

Congressman Bob Schaffer said: "This cooperative effort will aid in mobilizing all available resources to face a new kind of security challenge. The institute leverages the investments we’ve made in building a research infrastructure at Colorado State."

Hank Gardner, associate vice president for research and information technology, is spearheading the project. Gardner said Colorado State researchers currently collaborate with a wide range of federal researchers including scientists from the Centers for Disease Control, Department of Defense, Animal Plant Health Inspection Service and others in the U.S. Department of Agriculture as well as scientists from the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere, Natural Resources Research Center, National Wildlife Research Center and National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation.

"Colorado State is well positioned to serve the nation in a time of need, building on our legacy of quality research, education and service," Gardner said.

"The CDC has a long history of partnering with the experts at Colorado State," said Duane Gubler, director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Vector-Borne Infectious Diseases, National Center of Infectious Diseases, one of several federal facilities housed at the Colorado State campus. "The biosecurity institute will assist us in our efforts to bring together the new knowledge we’ll need to prepare for and deal with threats we may face."