A $150 million allocation within President Barack Obama’s 2012 budget is good news for the federal biosecurity lab slated for Manhattan.
If approved by Congress, the money will keep construction on track for the $650 million National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, set to open in 2018. The allocation for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security was one of many in the $3.73 trillion budget Obama released Monday morning.
“Clearly this is encouraging news to see this high on the president’s priority list,” said Ron Trewyn, vice president of research for Kansas State University.
The announcement comes as $40 million in funding for 2011 is still uncertain. Because Congress didn’t pass an appropriation bill for 2011, the current NBAF funding is tied to a comprehensive spending bill that is part of a continuing resolution that will be reviewed in March.
In the past, both Obama and President George Bush have specifically allocated money toward NBAF. But the $150 million is by far the largest amount ever designated and marks an increase in the funding that will be needed to build the lab.
“This is a big step forward,” Kansas Bioscience Authority President and CEO Tom Thornton said, and noted if approved by Congress, the money would allow for the actual construction of the lab.
The groundwork is already being laid for NBAF’s arrival, as roads and utilities are being rerouted on the 45-acre site across the street from Kansas State University’s football stadium. Design plans for the building are 35 percent completed.
Kansas State University, with the help of funding from the Kansas Bioscience Authority, is also boosting its research on many of the same deadly animal diseases that will soon be studied at the NBAF labs.
This summer, construction of the central utility plant is scheduled to begin. The building of the lab will occur over several years and should be finished by 2017. NBAF is slated to be operational by 2018.