ISU seeks state funds for second phase of Vet Lab construction

Construction of the front end of a new Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Ames is scheduled conclude in 2023. Iowa State University President Wendy Wintersteen says 80% of the lab’s operations were not included in phase one of the project, however.

“Phase Two is needed to provide an additional 70,000 square feet for laboratory testing, research and support functions,” she says. “Phase two is essential so all laboratory functions can be housed under one roof. This will improve efficiency and support biosafety by eliminating the need to shuttle samples from one building to another.”

Wintersteen is asking the governor and the state legislature to provide $62.5 million over the next four years to complete the project.

“The Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory provides absolutely vital support to Iowa’s $32.5 billion animal agriculture industry,” Wintersteen says.

The existing facility was built in 1976. About 30 faculty and staff processed about 35,000 tests a year. There are now 160 faculty and staff crowded into the existing building and this year they will process more than 1.7 million tests — the largest caseload in the U.S.

“It is the only full service and fully accredited lab of its kind in Iowa,” Wintersteen says. “It holds Tier 1 status in the National Animal Health Laboratory Network for the major role it plays in the major role it plays in foreign animal and emerging diseases.”

For example, the Veterinary Diagnostic Lab was the first to diagnose and pinpoint the origin of an intestinal disease that’s deadly in young pigs. The lab is part of Iowa State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine — one of only 33 veterinary colleges in the country and the very first public veterinary college established in the U.S.