For Immediate Release: April 24, 2007
Senate Welcomes National Bio & Agro
Defense Facility Project Site Selection Team
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is searching
for a site to replace its aging, 60-year-old animal disease
research facility and state lawmakers want that site to be in
Oklahoma. On Tuesday, the Senate passed Senate Concurrent Resolution
33 welcoming the National Bio and Agro Defense Facility project
site selection team to the state and encouraging them to select
Oklahoma. The resolution is authored by Sen. Mike
Johnson, Sen. Ron
Justice and Rep. Phil Richardson.
"We want to be a part of the national growth of the life
sciences industry," said Johnson, R-Kingfisher. "Bringing
this new industry to our state will benefit the state's economy
not only by creating new revenue sources, but through the creation
of high-technology jobs."
The new facility will conduct research on the interaction between
animal, plant, and human diseases as the first line of defense
against bio/agro terrorist attacks. Originally, there were 29
submissions for possible sites and that number has been decreased
to 14. Justice explained that among those is a proposed Oklahoma
site in El Reno at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Grazinglands Research Laboratory.
"El Reno would be the perfect location for this facility.
It's centrally located near a major airport, major highways
and a railroad. Plus, the USDA is already conducting agricultural
research," said Justice, R-Chickasha. "It's also close
to both the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University,
two schools with growing biotechnological efforts and established
research programs on infectious diseases."
Oklahoma State University has a veterinary college, a medical
research center and a major biomedical research institute. The
university is also developing public health training programs
and an animal disease diagnostic laboratory. The University
of Oklahoma has a medical school as well as health, genomics
and weather research capabilities. The site would also have
access to Langston University, which performs goat and aquaculture
research, and the University of Tulsa, which offers nationally-regarded
cyber security academic programs and research. Both schools
are part of the consortium.
The Oklahoma consortium that will serve as a resource to this
site, should it be selected, is composed of eight universities
from five states, three private research laboratories, two major
federal contractors, and two private companies.
The selection process for the site is being jointly conducted
by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the USDA, and the
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The selection
team will be visiting Oklahoma this year to examine Oklahoma's
research capabilities, resources, and infrastructure.
"We want to extend a warm welcome to the selection team
and encourage them to choose the Sooner State as the new site
for this facility," said Johnson.
The measure now moves to the House for consideration.
For more information contact:
Senator Johnson's Office: (405) 521-5592
Senator Justice's Office: (405) 521-5537