CORNELL COLLEGE OF VETERINARY MEDICINE TO BUILD
$80 MILLION ANIMAL HEALTH DIAGNOSTIC CENTER
-- Includes $50 Million Grant From the State of New York --
Ithaca, New York, August 14, 2006 - The Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine has received $50 million in new capital funding from the State of New York to build a new comprehensive Animal Health Diagnostic Center at the College. This grant, supplemented by $30 million from Cornell University and other sources, will be used to fund construction of the Center. The 126,000 gross square foot Center is expected to be complete in 2010, and will replace the existing facilities, which were constructed in 1978.
Cornell's Animal Health Diagnostic Center is the only full-service multidisciplinary animal disease diagnostic facility in New York State and is a member of the National Animal Health Laboratory Network. Every year, this facility conducts approximately one million tests on more than 150,000 individual samples received from across the United States and Canada. In the course of its work, Cornell works closely with New York State to ensure the early detection and control of pathogens that can significantly affect the health of animals and humans.
Speaking at a press conference in Ithaca on Monday August 14, Governor Pataki commended Cornell's faculty and staff: "You have the brain power, you have the education, you have the commitment, and now what you need are the resources." The governor went on to say that a majority of infectious diseases are threats to both animals and humans, including avian flu, West Nile Virus and Bovine Spongiform Encephalitis. A significant component of the new facilities will be the incorporation of biosecurity (BSL3) laboratories to enable the safe and reliable handling of highly pathogenic organisms.
Donald F. Smith, the Austin O. Hooey Dean of Veterinary Medicine, said, "The infectious disease link between human and animal health is critical. Many emerging infectious diseases discovered during the last few years threaten the health of both animals and humans, making expanded monitoring and diagnostic testing essential. This new facility will greatly enhance that effort."
Cornell University President David J. Skorton stated, "This new facility's research and diagnostic programs will have a profound influence on New York's economy and on animal and human health in the state, the nation, and throughout the world."
Samples from over 90 live bird markets in New York City are being routinely tested for the H5 and H7 strains of avian flu. Dr. Alfonso Torres, Associate Dean for Public Policy, said, "This monitoring is critical due to the emergence of an H5N1 virulent strain of avian flu that has resulted in the largest outbreak of this disease ever known. This massive outbreak has caused the death or destruction of over 150 million birds in Asia and Europe, and the death of 60 percent of the infected humans."
Since the 2002 appointment of Dr. Torres, former chief veterinary officer for the United States, to lead the Animal Health Diagnostic Center, Cornell has greatly expanded its role in the surveillance of zoonotic diseases, or diseases that are transmitted naturally between people and animals, including avian flu. In 2005, the laboratory identified Chronic Wasting Disease in the New York whitetail deer population. Two years ago, researchers at the laboratory isolated the canine flu virus that was killing dogs in thirteen states, including New York. Cornell is the only laboratory in the country capable of doing routine testing for this virus.
Planning and design for the new facility began with a lead grant from the State of New York in 2004. With its completion in 2010, the new facility will expand Cornell's veterinary complex to over 1.3 million square feet of education, research, clinical and diagnostic space.