May 13, 2005
Construction began the third week of May on the Duke Global Health Research Building (GHRB) after the Duke University Board of Trustees gave final approval at their May 13 meeting.
The GHRB will be one of four regional laboratory facilities in the United States charged with developing new vaccines, drugs and diagnostic tests designed to target infectious diseases.
Duke University Medical Center will lead a consortium of six universities in its research and development efforts and will also provide a training center for investigators. Additionally, the GHRB will be ready to assist in response to any national or regional biodefense emergencies.
In 2003, the National Institutes of Health approved funding for the construction of the regional biocontainment laboratories. Duke was chosen as the lead institute -- the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Vanderbilt, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the University of Florida and Emory are the other universities in the consortium -- for the Southeast Regional Center of Excellence for Emerging Infections and Biodefense (SERCEB). Additionally, 22 other southeastern institutions, including North Carolina Central University, North Carolina State University and East Carolina University, are affiliated with SERCEB and will be collaborating with the six primary universities to conduct research.
GHRB will be housed in a 33,145-square-foot space at the corner of Research Drive and Erwin Road. GHRB investigators will conduct only Biosafety Levels 2 and 3 research; Duke researchers have conducted research safely at these biosafety levels for more than 35 years.
The GHRB will provide benefits both to the field of research into infectious diseases, as well as to the community. Some of these benefits include:
- New facilities for research to develop vaccines, drugs and diagnostics against emerging infections such as tuberculosis, SARS and influenza. The research teams at the GHRB will be available to rapidly develop diagnostics and vaccines for any new local and regional threats.
- Additional biocontainment space that will be made available to the Durham County Public Health Department in times of need. For example, should SARS, influenza or another public health emergency overwhelm the capacity of the Durham County Public Health Department, the GHRB laboratories will be available to the health department director and his or her staff for use.
- Education programs in biosafety, infectious diseases, immunology and public health, targeted to investigators in the Triangle area. In particular, SERCEB training programs will recruit women and minorities to career development tracks.
The cost of building the GHRB is to not exceed $18 million, of which about $6 million will be contributed by Duke.
(From a Duke News Office Press release on 5/13/05)