FORT COLLINS — Colorado State University soon will house a center to research regional diseases.
The university was awarded a $40 million grant Wednesday to establish a Regional Center of Excellence for research and training for biodefense and emerging infectious diseases.
The center will be at the university’s Foothills Campus in west Fort Collins.
While Colorado State will be the hub of activity, universities in a six-state area will participate in research and development of vaccines and other ways to prevent and treat diseases indigenous to the area, such as hantavirus, the plague and West Nile virus.
Hank Gardner, interim vice president of research at Colorado State, said the center will expand the area’s ability to protect public health.
“One of the thrusts of the Regional Center of Excellence is it addresses the diseases that are listed by Health and Human Services as being potential bioterror agents,” he said.
The center will work with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is building a new facility on CSU’s Foothills Campus; the U.S. Department of Agriculture, housed in Laramie, Wyo.; and more than a dozen colleges and universities in Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.
Colorado State is one of two universities in the country that received the grant. There will be 10 Regional Centers of Excellence throughout the nation.
“We have a very long history of working on these pathogens,” said Barry Beaty, a professor in CSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and the new program’s chief.
The center will focus on zoonotic diseases, those that are transmitted to humans from other animals.
“We’re sitting here with a world-class vet school with lots of experts in zoonotic diseases,” Beaty said. “Zoonosis is the focus.”
Researchers will work at their own labs, he said, but they can come to Colorado to do research if they need to.
In August 2004, the CDC broke ground on an $80 million facility dedicated to infectious disease research. In 2003, the university was awarded a $17 million grant to construct a 33,000-square-foot Regional Biocontainment Laboratory.
The Regional Center of Excellence will primarily be housed in this lab, which could be completed in 2007.