Athens, Ga. – The University of Georgia has launched a Web site to keep the public informed of the state’s progress in bringing the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) to Athens.
The site, www.uga.edu/nbaf, contains information on the latest developments in the state’s efforts to attract the federal research facility as well as answers to frequently asked questions. The site also provides the public an opportunity to subscribe to a listserv that offers information on community meetings and other announcements.
“The Web site, along with the public meetings we have planned, are part of our commitment to keeping the community involved in the efforts to bring NBAF to Georgia,” said David Lee, UGA vice president for research. “We firmly believe that the state’s strengths in agriculture, veterinary medicine and human infectious disease research make Georgia uniquely qualified to house this federal facility.”
Lee is spearheading the bid from the Georgia Consortium for Health and Agro-Security, an alliance that includes Governor Sonny Perdue, Senators Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson, and the state’s congressional delegation; the state’s research universities; state and local government agencies; and key agriculture and industry partners.
The $500 million facility could employ 250 to 300 scientists and staff and generate as much as $6 billion in local economic impact over 20 years, according to an analysis by the university’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government. Importantly, NBAF also could make Georgia a center for biomedical research focused on understanding the relationships among animal and human diseases.
“This facility would make our state a magnet for biomedical and biotechnology companies,” Lee said. “It will also open up possibilities for related research with the state’s other research universities and our federal and private partners.”
The NBAF will modernize the nation’s efforts to protect against diseases that threaten public health and agriculture. It will specifically focus on diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans, such as avian flu, SARS and anthrax, as well as foreign animal diseases, such as foot-and-mouth disease. The high-level biosafety facility also would work to develop countermeasures, including vaccines, against such diseases.
In March 2006, Georgia submitted proposals for two sites on property owned by the University of Georgia – one on College Station Road and a second on South Milledge Avenue. In August, DHS winnowed the list of 29 sites around the country to 18 sites in 11 states. DHS will conduct site visits this spring. A short list of finalists will be announced in June, followed by an environmental assessment of each site. DHS is expected to announce its choice for the site in October 2008, with construction beginning in 2010.
Lee will provide an overview of the NBAF initiative to Athens Kiwanis Club on Tuesday, Feb. 13.