State, local and University of Iowa officials were on hand for the groundbreaking today (Wednesday) for the new University Hygienic Laboratory building at the school’s Oakdale research campus. U-of-I Vice President for Research Meredith Hay was the master of ceremonies for the event.
Hay says the staff of the new state-of-the-art laboratory will provide the “critical public health services to detect and help aid the prevention of outbreaks of infection, afflictions due to chemical contamination, bioterrorism and illness resulting form radiation.” She says they will also work to preserve the quality of the air, water and soil in the state.
Hay says the new lab brings many benefits. She says it will strengthen the capacity to meet infectious disease outbreaks, improve protection for homeland security infrastructure, provide a state-of-the-art facility to attract external funding in bioterrorism, and make it easier to respond to a statewide or regional disaster. Chris Atchison is the dean for public health practice at the University of Iowa and interim director of the laboratory .
Atchison says we need to be reminded of the heritage of the lab, as he says the lab has most often been on the front lines when new diseases have been found or outbreaks identified. Atchison says he knows very well about the importance of the lab from his past position as director of the Department of Public Health.
Atchison says in his eight years at D-P-H he saw first hand the reliability, professionalism and respect the lab and its staff received and deserved. Atchison says the new lab faces a tough challenge. He says the bar has been set high by the leaders of the lab for more than 100 years. Atchison says they’ve reaffirmed their resolve to meet the challenges of the know and unknown. The lab is slated to cost nearly 38-million dollars, with the Iowa Legislature kicking in 36 million.