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March 16, 2007

The University of Louisville has issued an open invitation to the community to take part in an April 9 groundbreaking celebration for its Center for Predictive Medicine.

The event is set for 1 p.m. in 218 Founders Union Building on Shelby Campus, the same room in which a series of public forums about the Level 3 biosafety lab has been held, said Larry Cook, the university’s executive vice president for health affairs.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has approval final design and construction of the $34.6 million lab, Cook reported at a public forum March 15. In addition, the National Institutes of Health has issued a “finding of no significant impact” following an environmental assessment of the project.

Researchers in the 37,000-square-foot lab will work to develop vaccines and other countermeasures to fight bioterrorism and emerging infectious diseases. The facility will be one of 13 of its kind now being built throughout the United States.

A business plan now being developed calls for the center to be used by UofL scientists, other faculty from schools in the region and regional biotechnology companies.

Researchers will not be stationed at the facility, but will use it under a “time-share” type of arrangement. Full-time employees will include technicians, safety officers, animal-care personnel and a building manager.

Construction of the lab on a 4.2-acre site at the northeast corner of Shelby Campus is scheduled to begin by the end of April. UofL is accepting bids on the job from general contractors through March 28.

UofL officials have said the lab will boost economic development by creating jobs and employing more people in the high-tech science sector. The facility also is expected to bring in increased federal research funding, offer training that students can bring to the workforce and lead to spin-off businesses.

The groundbreaking celebration “should be a lot more interesting than the standard ‘shovels and dirt’ affair,” Cook said.

UofL President James Ramsey will emcee and at least one official from NIAID headquarters in Bethesda, Md., is flying to Louisville for the celebration The program also will include a presentation by students in Sarah Ausmus’ fifth-grade science class at Zachary Taylor Elementary School. Refreshments will be provided, along with shuttle transportation to and from the lab construction site.

Also at the forum, Cook:

For more information about the biosafety lab, call 502-852-1113.


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