A&M Bids for Major Research Facility

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In presentations at the Brazos Center and on campus Monday, A&M announced that by the end of the month, they will be sending their expression of intent to host the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility.

"Securing such a facility would literally place Texas A&M in the vanguard for cutting edge research and discovery, and enhance the economic landscape of this community," said University President Robert Gates.

"This facility is unique in that it addresses diseases of animals, foreign animal diseases, emerging diseases of man and animals, and public health," said Garry Adams, A&M's associate dean of research and the point man for the university on the project.

The Departments of Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, and Agriculture would all be linked to research at NBAF, which would take up around 30 acres, land that A&M has available in Research Park. Some 300 permanent employees would work there, and experts from around the world would conduct research at NBAF, which would open in 2013. With potentially harmful specimens there, the building would also have be one of the most secure in the nation.

"The facility would be built to the highest level specifications anywhere," Adams said.

And the forums Tuesday were to inform and ask for support, something local leaders have lent.

"It's something like community support that can tip the scales, and I think sometimes we underestimate that," said B-CS Chamber of Commerce President Royce Hickman.

"The one intangible that may benefit this university is, in fact, our long history of service to the nation, and the fact that this is a supportive community," Gates said.

And A&M says their commitment to homeland security research and numerous sciences could put them over the top against the 15-20 institutions that are expected to vie for NBAF.

"I believe that this could be one of the most significant events that would occur in our university's history from the standpoint of bringing the highest level of science, the highest level of technology to bear on the gap in our national bio-defence program," said Adams.

Though firm details are still not known, A&M believes finalists could be selected by July, with a decision coming late this year or early next.

A $450 million federal grant would be provided for construction.