Researchers at the 50,000-square-foot facility on UofL’s Shelby Campus, now being developed as ShelbyHurst Research and Office Park, will use state-of-the-art equipment to develop vaccines, treatments and cures for some of today’s worst infectious diseases.
UofL received a $22 million competitive NIH grant for the lab in 2005 and provided a $12.6 million match to design and build the structure. Earlier this year, the university received another $9.8 million through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to expand its study of viruses there.
The lab, one of only 13 like it in the country, will allow scientists from Kentucky and surrounding states to study such diseases as flu, glanders and plague in a secure environment. Researchers there will study Level 3 biological agents, or those that can cause diseases that are potentially fatal but curable.
The lab will not handle Level 4 agents – those that can cause incurable diseases.
The university held 11 public meetings on or near its Shelby Campus between 2004 and 2008 to discuss the project and answer questions from residents of nearby neighborhoods. Construction of the lab began in 2007 and it is expected to be operating by the end of this year.
This facility was designed and built according to the strictest safety standards, said UofL President James Ramsey. Not only will it create more high-tech jobs and help us attract more federal research dollars, but new drugs, tests and vaccines will create licensing opportunities and spur creation of new, locally-based technology companies.
UofL’s lab also is well on the way to being certified as a green building through the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program, Ramsey said.