NEW MEXICO – A major grant from the National Institutes of Health aims to supplement the current biomedical facilities under construction at New Mexico State University (NMSU) to include areas for wild animal research.
“This is excellent news for our researchers as well as our students,” said NMSU System Chancellor Dan Arvizu. “This funding will help create a state-of-the-art facility to enhance our biomedical research and strengthen the training we provide to our diverse student populations. This is a game changer when it comes to addressing the health of border communities and minority populations in New Mexico and the region.”
Biology professor Timothy Wright led the effort to secure the US$7.1 million NIH infrastructure grant, dubbed C06, which addresses a major construction in the biomedical theme. Due to increases in construction costs, some of the facilities planned under previous General Obligation Bonds for facilities now under construction and had to be scaled back.
“Since the definition of the 2018 GO Bond, the College of ACES envisioned the biomedical laboratory as a facility where agricultural sciences in ACES will interact with other colleges and departments at NMSU in the advancement of human health and animal welfare,” said Rolando A. Flores Galarza, dean of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.
The NIH grant will allow expansion of the biomedical facility currently under construction to support additional resources originally planned for a wildlife research facility.
“This facility will really benefit this very active aspect of research on campus. It will include more space for animals to be brought in from the wild. We will be able to keep wild animals separate from lab-raised animals. It will have entomology space for insects, and there will be aviary space for birds and bats,” Wright said.
Wright noted that while he and Shanna Ivey, professor and chair of the animal and field sciences department, are the scientific leaders of the project, several staff members from NMSU’s Office of Facilities and Services, as well as university architect Heather Watenpaugh’s office, assisted in the application for this competitive grant. Luis Cifuentes, vice president for research at NMSU, is the principal investigator on the project and a key partner in the collaboration.
“This award will have a significant impact on our research capabilities. This facility will support NMSU’s biomedical research strengths in emerging infectious diseases, cancer and health disparities in underserved populations; enhance the training of students from underrepresented populations; and promote research that addresses the health of border communities and minority populations in New Mexico,” Cifuentes said.
To coincide with the ongoing construction of NMSU’s new biomedical facilities, the wild animal research expansion is expected to be completed in 2024.
The National Institutes of Health award to NMSU (C06OD032035) is an infrastructure award for major construction of biomedical significance at a Hispanic Serving Institution on the U.S.-Mexico border.