U of M President reacts to governor signing bonding bill

June 15, 2015

Today, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton signed a bonding bill passed earlier this afternoon by the Minnesota Legislature. The bill provides $26.5 million in capital funding to the University of Minnesota, including $18 million for a new veterinary isolation lab on the St. Paul campus and $8.5 million in upgrades for the veterinary diagnostic lab in Willmar, Minn.
 
In response, U of M President Eric W. Kaler issued the following statement:
“I appreciate the generous support from our legislators and the governor for including the University of Minnesota in the 2015 bonding bill. The $26.5 million capital investment in two of our veterinary research facilities will have an impact across Greater Minnesota and beyond, keeping with the U’s tradition of being a statewide university with worldwide implications.
 
“The $18 million investment in our St. Paul campus will replace two obsolete labs with a state-of-the-art bio-containment facility. The lab will allow us to keep the U of M at the forefront of infectious disease research, attract and retain renowned faculty, create new diagnostic tests and surveillance systems, and develop new vaccines and treatments. It will also allow experts to go beyond testing for highly pathogenic viruses – to research viruses and how it’s being transmitted between animals and between farms.
 
“The $8.5 million invested in Willmar’s vet diagnostic lab will allow us to test an additional 200 animals per day. When time-sensitive testing is required, such as during the recent avian flu outbreak, we will be in a position to provide additional resources closer to the source.”
 
Trevor Ames, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine, added:
"These facilities, when completed, will provide laboratories and animal housing in a secure and isolated environment where emerging diseases such as avian influenza, foot and mouth disease and porcine epidemic diarrhea virus can be investigated safely. This will enhance diagnosis, testing, methods to reduce and prevent transmission, and development of vaccines to prevent disease.
 
"In a world where new diseases can be introduced that can devastate livestock and wildlife populations and where 75 percent of emerging diseases are shared between animals and humans, this facility could not be more crucial for Minnesota's health."

Since 1990, there have been at least six major new disease introductions into Minnesota’s livestock and poultry populations that have created significant hardship and economic loss, and the University of Minnesota has been there to respond. The livestock industry has approximately $27 billion in direct and indirect contributions to Minnesota’s economy.

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