Groundbreaking for Biomedical Research Lab to Be Held Tomorrow

Posted: September 26, 2007 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

A groundbreaking ceremony for Mason’s Biomedical Research Laboratory, to be built adjacent to the Prince William Campus, will be held on Thursday, Sept. 27, at 10:30 a.m. on the construction site. The ceremony is free and all are invited.

The new facility will contain laboratories where Mason researchers will develop and test the next generation of vaccines, treatments and diagnostics to protect citizens against biological terrorism and infectious diseases. Research will focus on newly emerging diseases such as SARS, avian influenza and West Nile virus, as well as anthrax, plague and tularemia.

The biosafety level 3 facility will be one of 13 regional biocontainment laboratories to be built nationwide with funds from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health. To construct the laboratory, Mason was awarded a $25 million grant in 2005. The university is providing an estimated $15.3 million in matching funds. Under then-Virginia Gov. Mark R. Warner, the commonwealth committed $2.5 million for land acquisition.

Two scientists from NIAID will attend and speak at the ceremony: Peter Jahrling, chief scientist of the Integrated Research Facility at Fort Detrick; and Michael Kurilla, director of the Office of Biodefense Research Affairs and associate director for biodefense product development.

Mason speakers are Vikas Chandhoke, dean of the College of Science; Charles Bailey, executive director of Mason’s National Center for Biodefense and Infectious Diseases; and Thomas Hennessey, university chief of staff.

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