Ten states compete for new biodefense lab

Published 7 April 2006

BioDefense labs offer an opportunity to boost local economic development while at the same time finding cures and vaccines for bioterror agents. Several states have lined up to bid for a 500,000 square-foot biodefense facility in their own back yard. The facility, to be called the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, or NBAF would house 250 researchers and provide an economic boom to wherever the facility was located. The lab will replace the aging Plum Island Animal Disease Center in New York. Plum Island is the only place in the United States where researchers are permitted to do research on several deadly disease.

North Carolina’s proposal for the center includes a consortium of schools and businesses. Headed by North Carolina State University, other schools joining the bid to receive the center include Duke University, Wake Forest University, East Carolina University, and North Carolina Central University. In North Carolina, the drug maker Merck is also on board as part of the proposing team, along with other businesses and research centers. North Carolina is ranked as having the fifth largest biotechnology sector in the country.

Kentucky is also in the running to receive the $450 million bioterror lab. The state has already selected the possible site for the lab to be in Pulaski county. Residents of that county have already made known their opposition to such a lab in their midst for fear of possible leaks of deadly bioterror agents. These are the same concerns that downtown Boston residents voiced in opposition to placing a biodefense lab in the heart of that city. Kentucky is already home to the National Institute for Hometown Security in Somerset, and is hoping this connection will be lure for the lab to locate to their state.

Other states are hoping for the same kind of connections to win them the lab. Texas is already home to the National Center for Foreign Animal and Zoonotic Disease Defense program at Texas A&M University. Home to federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Georgia is hoping this facility which draws in top notch scientists will swing the momentum their way.

Other states vying for the center include Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Missouri, Kansas, and Arkansas. The deadline for proposals was 31 March, and DHS expects the site selection process to take six months.

-read more about this story in this news report; and also in this news report