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MU College of Veterinary Medicine’s diagnostic laboratory will receive a roughly 34,000 square foot addition, university officials said at a groundbreaking ceremony Friday afternoon.
The $30 million project will aim to provide adequate biosecurity and biosafety protocols to meet current standards, according to written information provided at the event. The addition is set to open in 2024 for student and faculty use.
The College of Veterinary Medicine’s diagnostic laboratory, or VMDL, was constructed in 1974 and is around 21,000 square feet. The lab is considered a level one laboratory in the National Animal Health Network. The health network tracks diseases that could be dangerous to livestock and people.
As a level one laboratory, the VMDL serves as the “boots on the ground, making sure (MU doesn’t) have disease outbreaks that get out of control,” said Carolyn Henry, dean of the MU College of Veterinary Medicine.
Plans for the addition began in January 2015 with a goal of not only meeting student success objectives, but research and engagement goals as well.
Funding for the $30 million addition came from the following:
- State of Missouri — $15 million
- MU College of Veterinary Medicine — $10 million
- University of Missouri — $1.5 million
- Private donations — $3.5 million
The private donations used to fund the addition was originally allocated for Alumni Hall construction, but the university decided to reprioritize funding toward the VDML.
Alumni James Nave donated $1 million toward the original Alumni Hall project. However, once he was notified of the plans for VMDL, he donated an additional $750,000 to support the addition.
The university plans to hire more faculty, specifically people to work in vaccine development and bacteriology, UM System President Mun Choi said Friday. The new addition will include “the ability to have separate entry areas for foreign animal disease cases,” Henry said. Disease cases include bird flu and COVID-19 for humans and animals.
Henry commented on the importance of the VDML working with human and animal lab testing. “One of the most exciting things is the one health aspect of the lab because we’ve never had the capacity like this to be able to do human and animal samples in the same laboratory,” she said. “it really helps to have all capability all in one place, so that’s going to make it very unique.”
All of the current faculty members, who are veterinarians, also serve as members of the Missouri Veterinary Medical Association, which was a collaborator on the new addition. The association “is the governance of our profession in the state, our advocacy and without their support, this never could have happened,” Henry said.