A&M No Longer in Running for Bio-Defense Center

Texas A&M University is no longer a finalist for the Department of Homeland Security's National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility. The university was one of 18 possible hosts for the $450 million facility.

"Texas A&M has a long and distinguished history of service to our state and nation, and we are disappointed that our proposal to host the Department of Homeland Security's National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility is not among the five selected for further consideration," Interim President Ed Davis said in a statement released Wednesday.

U.S. Senators John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison announced Wednesday the other finalists are in Georgia, Kansas, Mississippi, North Carolina and San Antonio.

Texas Research Park in northwest San Antonio is one of the finalists for the 520,000 square foot lab where killer germs like anthrax, avian flu and foot-and-mouth disease will be studied.

"Despite this, we remain committed to our ongoing research on Homeland Security issues and our implementation of research findings to improve the lives of people in Texas and the nation," Davis said. "We believe that this facility is an important addition to our country's Homeland Security efforts."

The facility will replace a smaller lab at Plum Island, New York, where security lapses after the 2001 terrorist attacks drew scrutiny. The new complex would bring at least 300 lab-related jobs, and more in construction.

"We extend our best wishes to Georgia, Kansas, North Carolina, Mississippi and San Antonio, which remain in competition for the site, and we would be pleased to pursue areas of collaboration on this project," said Davis.

Cornyn said Wednesday he was pleased that San Antonio is among the finalists.

"San Antonio's highly skilled and diverse workforce, together with its outstanding research facilities, make it an ideal location for this facility. I'm encouraged that the Department of Homeland Security is still considering it as a finalist," Cornyn said in a statement. "Texas has the right qualities to support NBAF, including its central location, diverse economy, strong transportation infrastructure, highly skilled workforce, and unique combination of intellectual research capacity and agriculture stakeholders.

"I'll continue working with my colleagues in the Texas Congressional delegation to urge full consideration of the San Antonio site for selection of this facility," Cornyn added.

The winner should be announced next year, with the lab operating by 2014.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.