Biosecurity Research Institute at KSU, a Center for Research

By Bryanna Cook
AgView Fall Intern, Kansas State University

Have you ever wondered who studies diseases and pathogens in plants, animals, and humans? Well the answer is right at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas. The Biosecurity Research Institute (BRI) at K-State is a unique biocontainment research and education facility.

Randy Phebus, the interim-director at the Food Science Institute at K-State and researcher at the BRI described the research center, "It supports research to control and/or mitigate disease agents associated with livestock, crops, food and public health that could compromise our agriculture and food industries."

"Back in the mid-1990s Dr. Curtis Kastner (emeritus professor at K-State's Food Science Institute) and I envisioned and drew out a biocontained meat processing laboratory where we could utilize food-borne pathogens such as E. coli, Listeria, and Salmonella to conduct large-scale animal harvesting and meat processing experiments. This became the genesis of the larger BRI facility that was proposed in the early 2000's," said Phebus.

The BRI at K-State has been open since 2008. It was passed through legislation with the help of Senator Pat Roberts and the State of Kansas. It is a biosafety level-3 facility, which is able to handle zoonotic diseases.

The BRI played a big role in bringing the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) to Manhattan, KS. NBAF will be a big hit in Manhattan. They will bring jobs to the community and possibly more defense facilities.

The BRI, NBAF and many other facilities across the United States help maintain our agriculture and bio-safety. They help keep our food, livestock and plants safe and beneficial for not only us but for themselves as well. These facilities are able to handle threats within the United States but also those coming from out of the United States.

"Manhattan has recently been deemed the Silicon Valley of Biodefense Research and as we continue to expand in this area, our community will be positively impacted by many scientists and biotech companies moving into the area to capitalize on our research and highly trained students. Its very exciting," said Phebus.

Photo: courtesy KSU Food Science Institute

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