Colorado State University will host three community open houses in the recently completed Regional Biocontainment Laboratory before the building is closed and research begins. The open houses will be from 5-7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 13; noon-2 p.m., Friday, Dec. 14; and 10 a.m.-noon on Saturday, Dec. 15.
The 38,000-square-foot building will house biomedical and infectious disease research on the university’s Foothills Research campus. Experts will research preventions, diagnostic methods and cures for some of the world’s most important infectious diseases including drug-resistant tuberculosis, yellow fever, dengue, plague and tularemia.
The open houses will include tours of the facility for the public and an overview of some of the building’s state-of-the-art safety features. The highly sophisticated building was funded 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. 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 facility, researchers have the capability to find ways to prevent the use of infectious diseases as weapons and discover counters to their effects in the event of a national emergency. The new laboratory also provides advanced research capacity and facilities where university researchers will partner with experts from the government, other universities and industry in infectious disease research for new drugs and vaccines.
The laboratory also will house the Rocky Mountain Regional Center of Excellence for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases, funded by a separate $30 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. 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 tests 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 under way at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s facility, the U. S. Department of Agriculture’s laboratory on the Foothills Campus and at the university’s existing Bioenvironmental Research Building, the Animal Disease Laboratory and the Arthropod-borne and Infectious Diseases Laboratory.
The university’s Foothills Research campus is recognized throughout the world for infectious disease research.
Colorado State announced the Infectious Diseases Supercluster in February. MicroRx, the business arm of the Infectious Disease Supercluster, 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. The new laboratory will support much of the work conducted within the Supercluster.
Colorado State Supercluster enterprises focus on research areas where the university has demonstrated international prominence and where a potential for growth is evident. 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.
To reach the Regional Biocontainment Laboratory from the intersection of Mulberry and Overland Trail, go south on Overland Trail to Rampart Road. Go west about a mile to 3195 Rampart Road to the Infectious Disease Annex, called IDA. The Regional Biocontainment Laboratory and parking for the open houses are behind IDA. Tours will start in IDA Room 123.
For more information about the open houses, contact Ralph Smith, interim director of the Infectious Disease Research Center, at (970) 491-8382 or Ralph.Smith@colostate.edu.