January 26, 2007
The Tulane University National Primate Research Center, located in Covington La., broke ground today on a major expansion involving three new buildings, including a Regional Biosafety Laboratory. Over the next five years, the expansion will bring an additional 83 jobs and an infusion of over $42 million to the local economy annually, adding to the center's nearly $70 million in annual economic impact.
The economic impact of construction of the facilities will be $192 million to the area. The primate center is part of a network of federally funded labs across the country focused on biomedical research challenges that require nonhuman primates. The major focus of research at the center is on development of diagnostics, therapeutics and treatments for infectious diseases and gene therapy.
A major component of the 80,000 square feet of expansion will be construction of a regional biosafety laboratory in support of the NIH biodefense research program.
"The overall goal of research associated with the expansion of the facility is to improve and protect the health and safety of our community and our nation," says center director Andrew Lackner.
The center has hosted a level three biosafety lab for more than 15 years. The National Institutes of Health is funding the majority of the construction with substantial additional funding from Tulane University. The facilities will build on Tulane's long running success in infectious disease research.
It is a biosafety level three facility where researchers will focus on the development of treatments, vaccines and diagnostics for emerging infectious diseases that occur naturally as well as biological agents that could be misused by terrorists. The infectious diseases program at the Tulane National Primate Research Center currently focuses on HIV/ AIDS, malaria, Lyme disease, tuberculosis and other diseases.
These are multidisciplinary studies involving investigators in multiple divisions at the primate center and collaborators from elsewhere at Tulane and other institutions.
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