SDSU researchers work on securing veterinary diagnostic labs

Researchers at South Dakota State University have recently won a contract from the U.S. Department of Defense to evaluate veterinary diagnostic labs in an effort to secure the disease-causing microbes and toxins held inside.

“The whole goal behind this project is to find ways to minimize the likelihood that someone with nefarious intent could walk out of a lab with a vial of some bacteria or virus that they aren’t supposed to have,” Tanya Graham, an associate director and diagnostic pathologist, said, according to Graham works with SDSU’s Animal Disease Research and Diagnostic Laboratory.

“The results of this project will allow the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Homeland Security, and all U.S. veterinary diagnostic laboratories to improve the existing policies and procedures that prevent inappropriate access to pathogenic microbes and toxins," Graham said.

Graham will work with Dr. David Zeman, head of SDSU’s Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences Department and the ADRDL director, as principal investigators on the $1.5 million project, according to

"Laboratory security has been a sensitive issue for infectious disease diagnostic and research laboratories, especially since 9/11,” Zeman said, according to “Securing the pathogens we work with is important so that those intent on malicious activities will not have access to them. This study has the potential to provide significant updated data that can be used by other animal health laboratories and research units across the country to assess their vulnerabilities."

The grant calls for SDSU’s Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences to evaluate the relative strengths and weaknesses of biomedical procedures that are currently in place at veterinary laboratories in the United States, taking into consideration those in other countries. The funding will also go towards adding physical infrastructure enhancements the ADRDL.

“At the Animal Disease Research and Diagnostic Laboratory at South Dakota State University and other labs like ours around the country, that translates into multiple layers of security, with rigorous annual inspections by the USDA and the CDC, to ensure that we protect people from the germs and germs from the people,” Graham said, reports.

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U.S. Department of Defense

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