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Research continues as animal defense lab is built

Construction on the country's animal disease defense laboratory will begin in May, but the research is already happening.

"Science tends to advance more quickly when you bring everyone together," said Ron Trewyn, Kansas State University's NBAF liasion. "You get a lot of synergies out of this with all of the partners working together."

The U.S. Congress approved the last of the $1.25 billion needed to construct the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility in Manhattan, Kansas.

Construction on the utility plant started in 2013.

The lab will be the first in the U.S. to research Level 4 pathogens in livestock, but some of that research is already underway right next door.

Kansas State University's Biosecurity Research Institute is the first non-federal lab ever to conduct research on African swine fever and classical swine fever.

"We have to understand that there are pathogens out there," said Stephen Higgs, director of the Biosecurity Research Institute. "Pathogens we know about and unfortunately pathogens we don't know about that are a constant potential threat to United States agriculture, and we cannot afford a time when we can just shut down Plum Island and then open NBAF."

NBAF will replace the lab at Plum Island, which does not study zoonotic diseases.

The lab will be built by 2020 but will take a couple of years to become fully operational.