K-State gets grant to study emerging diseases

A $12 million grant was recently awarded to Kansas State University to partner with the Department of Homeland Security in creating a Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases.

The collaboration will allow the university to leverage its information in dealing with potential biological threats.

Twelve other universities, including Texas A&M, Iowa State and the University of Missouri, will work in collaboration with Kansas State University on the investigations into emerging diseases.

The proposal for the grant was written by Dr. Juergen Richt, regents distinguished professor in diagnostic medicine and pathobiology, and Mary Lou Marino, vice president for research.

Richt, who will be the director at the center. noted that the government has become uneasy with its current capacity to handle biological warfare.

“Several Senators in Washington were looking at how the U.S. was prepared for future biological attacks, weapons of mass destruction and biological terrorism, and they concluded that the federal government is ill-prepared for such an attack,” Richt told KStateCollegian.com.

The $12 million grant will be used to address threats to the public health, agricultural systems and the nation's food supply. Projects at the center are expected to include vaccines, education, epidemiology surveillance and detection.