Texas vet lab breaks ground on new facility
The Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (TVMDL) broke ground mid-November on a 90,000-square-foot, $53-million facility in College Station. The much needed new building will house one of the largest veterinary diagnostic laboratories in the country, will allow the agency to continue to operate the most sophisticated diagnostic equipment available and conduct state-of-the-art testing to support veterinarians and animal owners.
In 1967, the Texas Legislature appropriated funds to build the Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory in College Station. Since the doors opened in 1969, the agency has continued to remain on the cutting edge of veterinary diagnostics, investing in sophisticated equipment and innovative testing techniques. The business of veterinary diagnostics has changed in many ways since then, with increased requirements for biosecurity and biosafety. These advancements have expedited the need for a multi-faceted laboratory space for the agency. In May 2013, the 83rd Texas Legislature appropriated funds for the construction of a new, state-of-the-art facility for TVMDL.
The groundbreaking event showcased the contributions TVMDL makes to the Texas A&M University System’s (TAMUS) mission; the agency is at the forefront of ensuring animal and human health as well as food safety and security through diagnostics. Several members of the Texas House of Representatives were on hand to celebrate the groundbreaking, including Representatives Myra Crownover, Kyle Kacal, and John Raney. In addition, the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents Chairman Phil Adams and Regents Judy Morgan, Charles W. Schwartz and Jim Schwertner attended the event. TAMUS Chancellor John Sharp and Texas A&M AgriLife Acting Vice Chancellor and Acting Dean, Dr. Bill Dugas, also marked the occasion.
“While TVMDL operates as a business, servicing clients and churning out test results every day, the importance of educating the next generation of diagnosticians is not lost on them,” said Chancellor Sharp. “The agency actively provides training experiences for undergraduates, residents, newly minted DVMs, and postdoctoral students. Veterinarians and scientists from around the world come to TVMDL to train with and learn from the best of the best. I am so pleased to support TVMDL’s efforts to advance the already stellar service they offer their clients and the citizens of Texas.”
A statewide agency with four locations across Texas, TVMDL services the State’s food animal, livestock, wildlife and companion animal industries. Though the smallest of the four State agencies under Texas A&M AgriLife, TVMDL supports the more than $18-billion agriculture industry and protects the 1 in 7 Texans that work in an agriculture-related job.
“The level of work conducted by the professionals here at TVMDL has long warranted a facility that is better equipped for today’s high-level diagnostic work,” said TVMDL Interim Director Bruce L. Akey, DVM, MS. “The building will allow TVMDL to maintain its accreditation from the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians and the American Association of Laboratory Accreditation. Most importantly, it will secure TVMDL’s position as a key member of the National Animal Health Laboratory Network in the number one livestock state in the country.”
The new laboratory will be located at 483 Agronomy Road in College Station, on the campus of Texas A&M University. In addition to designing and constructing integrated laboratory space to facilitate the more than 1,000 tests performed at TVMDL, the facility will have a full service necropsy suite and biosafety level 2 and 3 labs. The construction phase is projected to last approximately 18 months and is scheduled to begin in Spring 2015.
“Throughout this process we have benefited from the tremendous support of our stakeholders, those veterinarians and all of the state livestock, poultry and equine industry organizations who depend on the TVMDL day in and day out to help them stay productive and competitive,” said Dr. Akey. “The facility would not be possible without the thoughtful vision and effort of the many people who have designed, planned and will construct our new laboratory: the architect and design firm Perkins+Will, Vaughn Construction, TAMUS Facilities Planning and Construction, and our team of employees.”
TVMDL conducts more than 825,000 tests per year for clients in Texas, the United States and around the world. The College Station laboratory employs approximately 100 staff and serves as one of the two full-service facilities that comprise TVMDL. The other full service laboratory is in Amarillo, with additional poultry diagnostic laboratories located in Center and Gonzales.
–Texas A & M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory