UConn, USDA Working to Establish Research Space at Depot Campus

The proposed facility will develop and test vaccines for livestock.

USDAARSAs part of a longstanding partnership, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is working with UConn to build a new academic research facility on the University’s Depot campus. The structure will be used by scientists from UConn and the USDA who are developing vaccines to prevent the spread of illnesses among livestock. The plans call for the facility to be built on currently vacant land on the Depot campus, which is about three miles from the main campus in Storrs.

“This will be a mutually beneficial, collaborative opportunity that is very much in keeping with the University’s agricultural roots and the historic mission of land grant institutions like ours,” says Gregory Weidemann, dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. “A number of our faculty members are active in the field of animal vaccine research in concert with the USDA and this planned facility is an excellent way to harness and combine that expertise.”

The proposed $27 million building will be about 35,000 square feet and occupy roughly four acres of land that will be leased from the University by the USDA. The building will be constructed with federal funds. Between 15 and 30 researchers will work there, developing and testing vaccines on healthy animals.

The facility is designed to house 84 large animals. The livestock – such as cows, sheep, chickens, and pigs – will all be housed indoors. The animals will be cared for according to guidelines established by the federal government, UConn, and the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC). Vaccines for a variety of animal diseases will be developed and tested, however, the only disease-causing organisms to be used at the facility are those associated with common diseases of farm animals. The University will provide feed and remove all waste, similar to its other animal research facilities.

“This work is about finding ways to keep livestock healthy and protect them against illnesses that can affect them,” says UConn animal science professor Ian Hart, who is also associate dean for research at the college. “This will be a modern, well-equipped space for the researchers to carry out this critical work.”

UConn and the USDA are currently in the preliminary design stage of the process. Construction will take place once full funding is obtained. It will take roughly two years to build the facility. The University looked at several possible sites and decided that the Depot campus location best met its needs.

It will be one of 11 similar laboratories in the nation, many also located on college campuses, including Penn State, the University of Georgia, and Iowa State.