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Renovated space provides new research opportunities
Newly renovated space in Goss Laboratory, home to the Department of Veterinary Biosciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine, has added 9,000 square feet of state-of-the-art laboratory space. The new labs will allow an expansion of research and teaching related to infectious diseases. The $3.9 million upgrade was made possible by a grant from the National Institutes of Health.
“This new space is important to the college,” said Dr. Michael Oglesbee, chair, Department of Veterinary Biosciences. “The study of infectious diseases is one of our great research strengths and this facility enhances our ability to expand both our research and educational programs.”
An important addition to this space is the new infectious disease autopsy facility. This biosafety level two (BSL2) laboratory provides a secure area for faculty and students to conduct animal autopsies in an environment that protects them from viruses, bacteria, and parasites that can infect both animals and people. The open floor design of research space facilitates collaborative interaction between up to four groups.
Eight faculty in the department are conducting research in infectious diseases, including Dr. Xin Li, who works on tick-borne illnesses and Dr. Li Wu, who conducts research on HIV. Both of these faculty members were hired as part of a university-wide initiative known as the Public Health Preparedness for Infectious Diseases (PHPID) program.
"The PHPID brings together researchers in human, animal and environmental fields to build an understanding of the interdependence that exemplifies the "One Health" model," said Dr. Lonnie King, dean and Ruth Stanton Chair in Veterinary Medicine. The department is also home to the university Center of Retrovirus Research, led by Dr. Patrick Green, associate dean of Research and Graduate Studies in the College of Veterinary Medicine. Work by Dr. Yasuko Rikihisa has resulted in several breakthroughs in our ability to diagnose certain bacterial diseases of both humans and animals. Dr. Rikihisa was named the university innovator of the year as a result of the commercial success of these diagnostics.
Other important infectious disease research is being conducted on respiratory viruses, and enteric viruses. Dr. Jianrong Li and his research group was one of the first to move into the new research space. They work with two groups of viruses: paramyxoviruses that are linked to acute respiratory diseases in children and the elderly, and caliciviruses that are responsible for a majority of the foodborne illnesses worldwide.
“College research expenditures totaled over $10 million last year,” said Dr. Oglesbee. “A large percentage of this work takes place in our department, and this was leveraged to obtain support from the National Institutes of Health in renovating our facilities so that we may further build on our strengths”.
[Pictured above] One of four rooms dedicated to tissue culture, a capability that is essential to studies of cell biology and microbial-host cell interactions.