Plum Island pathogen research set to transition to Kansas State

The New York-based Plum Island Animal Disease Center is preparing to be phased out by the new Manhattan, Kan.-based National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility.
The Plum Island lab is a major biosafety level 3 animal disease research facility. Because the NBAF is not expected to be fully operational until 2018, pathogen work will transition to Kansas State University's Biosecurity Research Institute at Pat Robert's Hall. In September, Stephen Higgs, the research director at BRI, spent two weeks at Plum Island to discuss the transition process.
"Essentially the BRI is going to be a springboard to get NBAF research going as soon as possible after it opens," Higgs said. "As Plum Island ramps down, we are making sure that there is not a drop-off in research and training on these pathogens. That's important because we cannot afford to have a period where there's not work being done on these diseases should one of them happen to come to America."
While no definite date has been set for when the projects will begin transferring, the university and Manhattan-based researchers have begun working on research projects related to the current disease studies at Plum Island. Higgs also met with researchers about transboundary animal diseases and taught classes on mosquito-virus interactions and Rift Valley fever virus.
"Moving these projects from Plum Island to the BRI really opens up new possibilities for infectious disease research at K-State that hasn't been possible in the past," Higgs said. "These are high priority pathogens of major concern because they are a threat to our agricultural system. I really see this as being a whole new era at Kansas State University."