NBAF Facility

(Sam Capoun) Hello and welcome to AGam in Kansas. I’m your guest host Sam Capoun and today we’re at the IGP institute at Kansas State University. I’m here with Dr. Vanier who is with NBAF so give us a little update about NBAF and tell us your job title. (Dr. Marty Vanier) Thanks, Sam. I am Director of Partnership Development for the NBAF Program Executive Office. (Sam) Tell us about NBAF’s mission statement. (Dr. Vanier) The mission of NBAF is to do advanced research at the biosafety level three and four on high-consequence trans-boundary livestock diseases. The mission of the research is to provide advanced diagnostic tests to understand the disease process and to create vaccines that can be used to protect American agriculture against these diseases. (Sam) Right, are you explaining the three components that will come to NBAF then from New York? (Dr. Vanier) There are three different components that will be working in the NBAF facility. They are the same three components that currently work at the Plum Island facility. The first will be an advanced research program sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security, which is the governmental agency that’s building the laboratory. The other two components are two parts of the US Department of Agriculture. The first is the Agricultural Research Service. They currently do a lot of research on trans-boundary diseases of livestock and they will transition their mission to NBAF. The other portion of USDA is USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service. They are responsible for doing a lot of the diagnostic testing for disease outbreaks and doing a lot of research and training of federal veterinarians and private veterinarians to recognize these transboundary diseases. The also will transition their program to NBAF. (Sam) What is the update on the building and when do you foresee it being done? (Dr. Vanier) The building is under construction. We’ve been doing construction for about a year. We anticipate that construction will be finished in December of 2020. (Sam) Okay, so why Manhattan Kansas then? (Dr. Vanier) Manhattan Kansas was the successful proposer of this facility. There were a variety of locations in the country that proposed building the facility in their locations. The government looked at a variety of attributes, the community, the research support in the community, the ability to find a workforce able to come into the laboratory and work, connections with the industry, connections with a research university. When all of those proposals came in and were evaluated then Manhattan was selected as the winning proposal. (Sam) Well, you mentioned right there the connection with a research facility. How is it going to benefit that K-State’s right here with NBAF being very close to it? (Dr. Vanier) It will benefit both entities. Clearly, NBAF will have the ability to reach out and touch researchers at Kansas State University and collaborate with them. Conversely, because of that collaboration, our researchers at Kansas State can advance their research projects and also it gives them a great opportunity to train their graduate students in a facility like NBAF that wouldn’t be available anywhere else in the country. (Sam) I know some people may be a little nervous or skeptical about these diseases coming to Manhattan Kansas where there’s a big AG community. What precautions or measures are you guys taking to make sure it’s safe and that it’s all going to be all right? (Dr. Vanier) Well, the first thing to understand is this is going to be a completely state-of-the-art laboratory that will be constructed in Manhattan. There will be a variety of levels of safety and security features not only as part of the building construction but also with respect to building operations, understanding who is working in the building, where in the building they can go, what laboratories they can access. All of the research materials are kept in highly secure locations in rooms, in freezers, which are only accessed by folks who are approved to work with those particular agents. We have a number of security features that will be a part of this laboratory that will be state of the art, second to none in this country. (Sam) Thank you for sharing that update with us and thank you for joining us today, Dr. Vanier. (Dr. Vanier) Thank you, Sam.

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