The National Institutes of Health awarded a team led by K-State researchers a $11.3 million grant to establish the Center on Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases.

The five-year grant, which will be under the Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence, will help the new infectious diseases center connect several infectious diseases programs across K-State, to allow for a multidisciplinary approach to understanding and fighting animal-originated diseases.

Peter Dorhout, vice president for research, said the center will also help combat diseases like coronaviruses.

Jürgen Richt, a K-State professor and a Kansas Bioscience Authority eminent scholar in the College of Veterinary Medicine, will serve as director of the center.

“Our projects will examine virulence factors and host-pathogen interactions of various pathogens, utilizing both basic and translational approaches in in vitro systems and in models,” Richt said in a release.

“The overarching goal of the CEZID is to advance our overall understanding of emerging and zoonotic infectious diseases based on research performed in the state of Kansas,” he added.

The center will host two research core facilities, an animal model/pathology core and a molecular cellular biology core, and will recruit new K-State faculty work within the center’s mission. The center also will have a pilot grant program to fund smaller projects at other state universities to promote the center’s growth, and it will establish a regional scientific network to provide interdisciplinary and interinstitutional collaboration.

Philip Hardwidge, professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology in the College of Veterinary Medicine and associate director of the center, said the center will be a key component of the nation’s research and work against infectious diseases.

“In this era, interest in the control of the spread of infectious diseases is obviously of substantial importance both within the scientific community and in the general population,” he said. “We believe this center can greatly expand our general ability to respond effectively to future outbreaks.”