Upgraded vet lab improves research

Sam Boeser

The University has completed a $1.5 million renovation of the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, officials announced in a ceremony Friday.

“We were able to finish ahead of schedule and on budget,” said Jim Collins, the laboratory’s director.

The approximately 5,000 square feet of renovated space has been updated with specialized equipment and new facilities. This will allow University researchers to study animal diseases more effectively.

The renovations were made possible after the College of Veterinary Medicine received a $1.54 million appropriation from the Legislature in 2003. State Sen. Steve Dille, R-Dassel, was the chief author of the bill and is a 1969 graduate of the University.

“I want to help the livestock industry in this state and eliminate some diseases in the long run,” Dille said.

The new equipment includes incubators, ultra-low temperature freezers, purifiers and centrifuges. New ventilation systems and a fire-safety system were also installed in the updated labs.

Before being renovated, the space was used to study a livestock disease laboratory researchers successfully eliminated from Minnesota farm animals.

“There was no need to have that lab any longer,” Collins said. “The space was being underutilized.”

The old facilities were dilapidated, outdated, in poor condition and substandard in meeting safety codes, Collins said.

Officials from the lab highlighted avian influenza, Johne’s disease, mastitis and porcine reproductive respiratory syndrome as four main livestock diseases that will be studied in the new facilities.

University officials said they hope the updated laboratories will give them more success in treating emerging animal diseases and increase their recognition in the field of molecular diagnostic testing.

“With this laboratory, we really have the opportunity to take the next step forward,” said Jeff Klausner, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine.

But officials emphasized that the new labs will be used to study an array of emerging animal illnesses.

The diseases cost the U.S. agriculture industry billions of dollars every year, according to the College of Veterinary Medicine.

Renovations began in March and were completed in October. This is the first update for the laboratory since 1959.