Regional Biocontainment Laboratory at Colorado State University Unveiled at Ribbon Cutting

Note to Editors: The symposium is from 1-5 p.m. today, Oct. 2, at the Hilton Inn. The reception and dinner begin at 6 p.m., also at the Hilton. Media are invited to cover both events. Media wishing to attend the afternoon symposium or the dinner are asked to RSVP to Dell Rae Moellenberg at 970-491-6009 or

Colorado State University today unveiled its new 38,000-square-foot regional biocontainment laboratory on its Foothills Research Campus. The laboratory will enhance Colorado State and partner institutions’ research into preventions, diagnosis and cures for some of the world’s most deadly infectious diseases.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony was the culmination of a sophisticated building project that began in 2003 when the National Institutes of Health awarded $17 million to the university. Two years later, the university won a $5 million supplemental grant. An additional $8 million in university funding rounded out the $30 million project.

The Rocky Mountain Regional Biocontainment Laboratory is among the most secure laboratories of its kind in the world, featuring level-three biocontainment security, and will house internationally recognized research already underway into infectious diseases at Colorado State. The university is an international research leader for West Nile virus, drug resistant tuberculosis, yellow fever, dengue, hantavirus, plague, tularemia, chronic wasting disease and many other infectious diseases.

Infectious diseases are the leading cause of deaths in the world and new and safe vaccines, drugs and tests are crucial for local, national and global health.

The inaugural university Infectious Disease Supercluster Symposium will follow the ceremony, featuring presentations by several of the nation’s top infectious disease researchers.

     "This state-of-the-art facility will enable Colorado State University to continue its important, life-saving research benefiting people who suffer from infectious diseases around the globe," said Larry Edward Penley, Colorado State president. "The university is honored to be the home of the Rocky Mountain Regional Biocontainment Laboratory, where our faculty, already internationally recognized experts in infectious diseases, can safely research and develop potential cures and treatments for a large number of life-threatening infectious diseases. This facility is a tribute to the competitiveness of our faculty and the strong partnership between Colorado State and its federal research partners."

Funded by the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease and matching funds from the university, the grant to build the laboratory was announced in 2003 and construction began in 2005.

The new facility also provides the university with improved and safer equipment to research ways to protect the United States from bioterrorism and emerging diseases such as avian influenza. Within this state-of-the-art facility, researchers are better able to find ways to prevent the use of biological weapons and discover counters to their effects. The new laboratory also provides advanced research capacity and facilities to bring university researchers together with government, academia and industry scientists develop new vaccines, therapies and diagnostics for these pathogens to help people across the globe.

"This facility will enable the university and its research partners to continue to provide global leadership in addressing infectious diseases that impact millions of lives each year," said Tony Frank, provost and senior vice president at Colorado State. "The work conducted at the laboratory will be further enhanced by the university’s recently formed Infectious Disease Supercluster and a business enterprise, MicroRx, devoted to speeding to the marketplace the university’s discoveries to cure, prevent or treat infectious diseases."

The laboratory also will house the Regional Center of Excellence for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases. The Rocky Mountain RCE is a multi-disciplinary intellectual collaboration of researchers from Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming. The RCE will focus on zoonotic emerging diseases, which are animal diseases that are transmissible to humans. These diseases are the source of almost all emerging diseases throughout the world. The RCE will work to develop new vaccines, drugs and diagnostics for these emerging diseases; train regional and national scientists, physicians, veterinarians and other public health personnel in emerging diseases and biosecurity; and help state and federal agencies respond to emerging diseases.

The new lab will complement similar infectious disease research already underway at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s facility and the U. S. Department of Agriculture’s laboratory on the Foothills Campus as well as at the university’s existing Bioenvironmental Hazards Research Building and its Arthropod-borne and Infectious Diseases Laboratory. The campus is recognized throughout the world for infectious disease research.

"Colorado State is one of the nation’s top research institutions with double-digit growth in research dollars in recent years with total annual research expenditures nearing $300 million," said Bill Farland, vice president for research at Colorado State.

International experts in infectious disease research will speak at the university’s inaugural Infectious Disease Supercluster Symposium. The symposium features presentations from nationally and internationally recognized experts on influenza pandemics; new methods to enhance vaccine efficacy; research progress toward developing a vaccine for Salmonella; and methods to monitor and discover disease pathogens.

     Colorado State announced the Infectious Diseases Supercluster in February. Colorado State Superclusters focus on research areas where the university has demonstrated international prominence, and where a potential for growth is evident.

MicroRx, the business arm of the first Supercluster to launch, is a private, non-profit entity focused on infectious disease and biomedical research and biomedical product development. Its goal is to move research discoveries from the laboratories to usable products that combat infectious diseases and promote economic development.

Many research universities have "technology transfer" programs, which guide scientists through the process of patenting and other complexities encountered in delivering discoveries to the global market. Colorado State’s Superclusters model is unique in its multidisciplinary structure, enabling groundbreaking research to move to market more quickly by mimicking business practices.

The symposium will be followed by a dinner and reception with a theme of "Local Discovery – Global Impact: Stimulating Partnerships to Further Biosecurity Research and to Foster Economic Development." The event, which features a string quartet, will include remarks by Bill Farland, vice president for research, and Dr. Penley. A keynote address by Dr. Tom Monath, who is an infectious disease researcher and venture capital executive, will focus on "Countermeasures Against Emerging and Biological Threats: How Are We Doing?"

Joining Colorado State administrators at the ribbon-cutting ceremony were Mike Kurilla, NIAID associate director for Biodefense Product Development and director of the Office of Biodefense Research Activities within NIAID’s Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases; and Barry Beaty, Colorado State’s Infectious Disease Supercluster director.