MU lab conducts tests for companion, agricultural, zoo animals

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Drawing of the planned expansion of the MU Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory.

University of Missouri officials on Friday celebrated a $30 million expansion of the Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory with a groundbreaking ceremony.

Part of the College of Veterinary Medicine, the construction will more than double the size of the 21,000-square-foot building originally built in 1974, adding 34,200 square feet. Construction is expected to be completed in summer 2024.

Heavy equipment was on the scene to start work after ceremony participants cleared the scene.

The lab benefits the agriculture industry, with 450,000 workers in the state, said Mun Choi, University of Missouri System president and MU chancellor.

“It is the most important industry in the state,” Choi said.

Carolyn Henry, dean of the MU College of Veterinary Medicine, visits before Friday's ceremony for the planned expansion of the Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory.

The work at the lab serves MU’s role as a land-grant university by touching the lives of every Missourian, said Provost Latha Ramchand.

The lab performs more than 167,000 diagnostic tests annually to support Missouri’s companion and agricultural animals, wildlife and zoo animal conservation efforts.

The laboratory is a Level 1 laboratory of the National Animal Health Laboratory Network and plays a role in the early detection of foreign and emerging animal diseases, including avian influenza and African swine fever.

The lab received another five-year full accreditation, lab director Shuping Zhang said at Friday’s ceremony.

The expansion will enhance biosecurity, safety and testing capacity of the lab, Zhang said.

The lab played a part in increasing testing capacity for COVID-19 among humans and animals, according to literature from the event.

Mun Choi, University of Missouri System president and MU chancellor, speaks Friday at the groundbreaking ceremony for the $30 million expansion of the Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory.

In 2021, MU lab pathologist Gayle Johnson found toxins in a pet food that resulted in dog deaths, resulting in a recall of the pet food.

The expansion will include separate receiving areas and laboratories for routine, high-risk and foreign animal diseases and biosecurity cases.

There will also be separate lab spaces for clean materials and diseased or infected materials.

A space for client consultation is another feature.

There will be an area for after-hours sample drop-offs.

The project has $15 million in funding from the state, $10 million from the College of Veterinary Medicine, $1.5 million from MU and $3.5 million in private donations.

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