$12 Million Grant Will Boost Workforce Development at MU’s Laboratory for Infectious Disease Research

Published 9/21/2023

NIH-funded grant will provide additional trainings and support to existing University of Missouri employees, as well as recruit new employees.

The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the importance of research regarding the transmission and treatment of infectious diseases. Now, a five-year, $12 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will increase workforce development at the University of Missouri’s Laboratory for Infectious Disease Research (LIDR) by providing additional trainings and support to existing employees, as well as help recruit new employees.

By educating and training the next generation of scientists who are researching the transmission and treatment of emerging infectious diseases, the grant will help support the development of approaches for both the prevention and treatment of infections caused by bacteria, viruses and other pathogens.

“Whether it is SARS-CoV-2, influenza, the plague or brucellosis, infectious diseases are not going away anytime soon, so increasing the size of the workforce at this spectacular facility on MU’s campus will increase efficiency, collaboration and preparedness going forward,” said Chris Lorson, associate vice chancellor for research and strategic initiatives at MU, who oversees and supports research facilities on campus. “The LIDR is part of a nationwide network of research biocontainment labs, and our expertise in the areas of immunology, small animal modeling, large animal studies, therapeutics and aerobiology will be strengthened going forward as a result.”

The LIDR, which opened in 2009 at MU and is one of 13 similar structures in the United States, houses both MU faculty and collaborating scientists who research infectious diseases as part of the nation’s effort to protect public health. The facility aids researchers in the discovery and development of new ways to fight bacterial and viral infections. With funding from the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, the faculty, staff and students with access to the LIDR receive initial and ongoing comprehensive training in safe handling and containment of biohazards.

Lorson added that MU has both a breadth and a depth of talent in infectious disease research, involving collaborators from the College of Veterinary Medicine; School of Medicine; College of Engineering; College of Arts and Science; and College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.

“There are university-wide initiatives, including MizzouForward and the Roy Blunt NextGen Precision Health Initiative, that support our research mission with the ultimate goal of improving health outcomes and well-being for Missourians and people around the world,” Lorson said. “This facility is crucial for testing disease phenotypes and analyzing how diseases spread in the community. By conducting pre-clinical trials for a variety of pathogens, we can better understand the molecular genetics behind it all.”

Note: The grant’s principal investigator is Wendy Picking, a professor in the MU College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) and Bond Life Sciences Center. Co-investigators include Jeffrey Adamovicz, an associate professor in the CVM, Rachel Olson, an assistant research professor in the CVM, and Roman Ganta, a professor in the CVM and Bond LSC.

Contact: Brian Consiglio, 573-882-9144, consigliob@missouri.edu