Kansas State University received a $3.4 million grant from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services to create a new research and biosecurity development lab space.

University officials announced the grant Friday. The money comes from the National Institutes of Health and will be used to build up K-State’s laboratory capacity and help the university become “a premier institution in advancing the discovery and development of biosecurity strategies for emerging and zoonotic infectious diseases,” according to a statement from KSU officials.

More specifically, the grant will be used to bolster the KSU Biosecurity Research Institute, the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF), and the USDA Arthropod-Borne Animal Diseases Research Unit. Bonnie Rush, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine, said in a statement Friday that the current labs are isolated from each other and “have limited access, research productivity, and collaboration” between faculty members.

The grant will enable university officials to build a core research facility to “bridge the gaps” between the three laboratories. It also will support the university’s Centers for Biomedical Research Excellence and combine multiple scientific research disciplines for study in one location.

Rush said the university has “seized an opportunity to strengthen our research capacity and infrastructure by creating an integrated technology pipeline in this new space.”

“This will give our university a modern biomedical research facility with advanced instrumentation and technical support to foster collaborative, transdisciplinary science across the university and beyond,” Rush said.

U.S. Sen. Roger Marshall said in a statement Thursday that this grant “will coordinate (university) efforts to multiply their successes.”

“The whole world is painfully aware of how dangerous infectious diseases can be as we continue to live through the COVID-19 pandemic,” Marshall said. “This collaborative research is monumental to understanding, preventing, and combatting any biological threats to our animal populations and public health.”

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran said K-State is well-known for being a “premier research institution within the animal health corridor.

“This federal grant will serve to strengthen our nation’s biomedical research infrastructure in the wake of the pandemic and support critical animal health research being conducted by K-State professors and students,” he said. “As an appropriator for the NIH, I supported resources for the construction of biomedical research facilities, and I will continue to work with our federal agencies to make certain that Kansas is a priority when these resources are distributed.”

Rush said the proposed plan is to complete renovation and then occupy the consolidated biomedical core facilities by the fourth quarter of 2023. A new core research facility is part of a three-phase renovation to the Vet Med College. The 5,000-square-foot research space will be housed on the second floor of an old auditorium space that also includes the Hill’s Pet Health and Nutrition Center.