$8M in stimulus funds go to UNL virology center

2009-12-14T10:35:00Z $8M in stimulus funds go to UNL virology centerBy KEVIN ABOUREZK / Lincoln Journal Star JournalStar.com
December 14, 2009 10:35 am  • 

An $8 million infusion of federal stimulus money will allow the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to expand its Nebraska Center for Virology, university officials announced Monday.

"It's an excellent stimulus project," said UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman. "In the near term, construction will crete jobs and stimulate the economy. In the longer term, it will enhance our state's research capacity."

The stimulus funds for the virology center -- housed in the Ken Morrison Life Sciences Research Center -- come from the National Institutes of Health.

UNL will use the money to build a 26,000-square-foot laboratory wing on the north side of the Morrison building on UNL's East Campus. The addition will include as many as seven research labs, support facilities and office and seminar space.

Twelve faculty members, students, postdoctoral fellows and staff are housed in Morrison, and two additional faculty members are being recruited. The expansion will accommodate additional faculty, fellows and students.

Preliminary planning is complete, and the design for the addition is being developed. Bids are expected to be let early in 2011, and construction is set to begin that spring, with completion by summer 2012.

Prem Paul, UNL vice chancellor for research and economic development, said the stimulus money will cover the entire cost of the virology center expansion.

"Our research program has grown tremendously and so space has been challenged," Paul said. "This expansion will be further beneficial."

The virology center links scientists at UNL, the University of Nebraska Medical Center and Creighton University who study the leading viral threats to people, animals and plants.

The center seeks new ways to treat or prevent diseases caused by HIV, herpes, hepatitis and other viruses.

Charles Wood, the center's director, said the addition will allow UNL to pursue new research opportunities, recruit new faculty and students and provide more room for ongoing projects.

"Our goal is to be an international leader in virology research that provides basic knowledge about viruses and strategies to treat and prevent major viral infectious diseases," Wood said. "This addition will give us the room we need to grow toward that goal.

Reach Kevin Abourezk at 473-7225 or kabourezk@journalstar.com.

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