Iowa Board of Regents

Iowa State Veterinary Diagnostic Lab Seeking Expansion

At its April 1 meeting, the Board of Regents will consider approval of a new 72,540 square foot Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (VDL) at Iowa State University. The project, located on ISU’s College of Veterinary Medicine campus, would move approximately half of the existing VDL operations into a new stand-alone facility.

The VDL provides quality diagnostic services for animal species and is the only full-service and fully accredited veterinary diagnostic lab in Iowa. The new VDL facility will enhance capabilities for diagnostic services and support food safety and public health. Expanded VDL facilities will enhance the state’s agriculture and provide vital services for current and future generations of Iowa farmers.

“The VDL answers vital questions concerning the health and welfare of Iowa livestock and poultry,” said Dr. Pat Halbur, professor and chair of Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine and executive director of the ISU VDL. “We use the newest, most cutting-edge technology to prevent disease and minimize the impact of disease that is present.”

Funded by $63.5 million in state appropriations, $4 million in private gifts and $7.5 million in university funds, the VDL project will provide a new building to relocate a portion of the functions of the existing VDL that present the greatest biosecurity and biohazard risks. In addition, the new facility will provide additional space to handle VDL caseload, which has more than doubled over the last seven years. Laboratory functions, including bacteriology, pathology/necropsy and histopathology, will be transferred to the new building, along with sample receiving and processing and other needed service areas. 

“We are truly appreciative of the state legislature for recognizing this critical need,” Halbur said. “Iowa livestock and poultry producers are the most progressive in the world; they demand the latest technology and the latest tools to help them raise healthy animals and produce safe food. This facility will allow us to serve animal agriculture and public health needs in the best possible way.”

Design elements of the new building will introduce daylight into interior spaces, with interior and exterior glazing added where possible to promote safety, exterior views, and a general sense of openness. Lab spaces will be designed to be flexible and allow the VDL to quickly adapt to the evolving needs of its constituents. Large, open lab spaces contribute to these flexible configurations.

Security also is top of mind in the new building; lab spaces will be entirely separate from non-lab spaces to maximize both biosafety and biosecurity. This layout ensures the safety and comfort of the facilities for employees and visitors, alike. The new building also allows the VDL to maintain biocontainment separation from other Veterinary Medicine areas in the existing complex.

“This new facility is critically needed,” Halbur said. “It will address our needs for expanded, safer space and will help our lab remain the best of its kind in the world.”

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