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Construction begins this fall on the building and relocating of USDA’s Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) $150-million National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) at the College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University, Manhattan.

DHS earlier this year allocated $40 million to move forward with construction plans. The animal health research center won’t be completed until 2018, but there is a lot of work underway to prepare for the transition, says Ralph Richardson, DVM, dean of the school’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

“This is a once in a multi-generational opportunity specifically for Kansas State University and the College of Veterinary Medicine,” Richardson says in an interview with DVM Newsmagazine.

“To my knowledge, there has never been in the United States a federal laboratory of the level of NBAF co-located with a university that has an agricultural college, veterinary college, a division of biology and people interested in animal diseases.”

Collectively, NBAF will attract about 300 scientists and highly-trained technicians to the Manhattan area. It’s an important event as efforts move ahead to transition the Plum Island facility off the coast of New York.

Crews have been clearing the site and removing buildings in preparation for the start of construction this fall. In addition, the veterinary college moved its teaching facilities about three-quarters of a mile from the campus. This facility is scheduled to be open and operational by the first of November.

Officials are also awaiting the release in the next few weeks of a National Academy of Science’s report on conducting foot-and-mouth disease research on the mainland of the United States. Richardson expresses confidence the findings will support relocation of the laboratory to Kansas.