A collaborative biosecurity laboratory opens its doors to continue research on agro-defense
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the University of Nebraska National Institute for Strategic Research hosted a groundbreaking ceremony on September 27 to celebrate the official opening of the collaborative biosafety lab at the Morrison Life Sciences Research Center on the East Nebraska Campus.
The lab is another tangible step in the growing partnership between IANR and NSRI that brings together researchers from both institutes to increase research and development in:
Agricultural and natural resource security, defense and countermeasures;
Biological Defense in support of the US Departments of Defense and Homeland Security, and other government stakeholders;
Development and deployment of biomonitoring, biodetection and diagnostic tools; and
Preparing for a pandemic linked to diseases of humans, livestock and crops that could disrupt US and global food systems.
“This new effort is a perfect marriage of the key strengths and priorities of the entire University of Nebraska system: national security, preparedness, agriculture and natural resources,” said UN President Ted Carter. “The lab will be a point of pride for our university and our state. I am delighted that the IANR and NSRI are collaborating in this way, and I am delighted to see the innovations that will result from this forward-thinking partnership.
The new lab also aligns with Nebraska’s commitment to bold, innovative and meaningful research, Chancellor Ronnie Green said.
“No university is better positioned to lead with a new collaborative biosafety lab,” Green said. “We have long sought bold solutions to complex problems, and our expertise in agricultural and defense innovation is exceptional. “
The location of the lab, alongside other molecular life scientists, biomedical engineers, and the Nebraska Center for Virology, provides opportunities for INSR researchers, staff and program leaders to engage with faculty , students and staff of the IANR and the university.
“Ensuring the security of our food supply is an extremely complex business,” said Mike Boehm, NU vice president and Harlan vice chancellor for IANR. “A broad and collaborative approach based on disciplines such as virology, engineering of biological systems, chemistry and biochemistry, statistics, animal science, veterinary medicine, plant pathology, natural resources, science food and many others will be the key to the success of this exciting collaboration. “
In addition to the lab, the NSRI appointed 10 IANR researchers as NSRI fellows in May 2021. One fellow is already contributing to the Nebraska Drug Discovery and Development Pipeline, a long-term project funded by the federal government through of the NSRI to develop the drugs needed by combatants. . The NSRI, the University of Nebraska Department of Defense-designated University Affiliate Research Center, and the U.S. Strategic Command also recently used the IANR Midwestern Research and Extension Center to test unmanned aerial systems for a DOD sponsor.
“We are actively seeking opportunities to collaborate meaningfully with the IANR,” said retired Major General Rick Evans, Executive Director of NSRI. “This lab demonstrates the foresight that the NU and NSRI can bring to DOD – by combining Nebraska’s formidable strength and leadership in agriculture and biosecurity with the NSRI’s deep understanding of the complexities of strategic deterrence across the spectrum.” threats and in multiple domains. ”
Joshua Santarpia, NSRI Research Director of Chemical and Biological Programs and Associate Professor of Microbiology and Pathology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, heads the Collaborative Biosafety Lab.
“This lab represents a host of new opportunities for NSRI and IANR,” Santarpia said. “Through this lab and the collaboration it represents, we can seek ways to leverage NSRI’s research on agricultural issues, provide new opportunities for IANR scientists to develop research to support safety.” national level and jointly build new agricultural biosecurity programs. ”