LSU AgCenter offers containment lab space for research

Linda F. Benedict, Morgan, Johnny W.

The LSU AgCenter Isolation Facility can be used for both plant and animal research. (Photo by Johnny Morgan)

Each of the units can be adjusted in size to accommodate various sizes of animals or plants. (Photo by Johnny Morgan)

Recently completed laboratory and animal handling space at the LSU AgCenter Isolation Facility is available to any researcher who has a need for containment and isolation, said Phil Elzer, assistant vice chancellor for research.

The building was designed for any type of work that requires a project to be isolated or contained from the natural environment. This work may involve pathogens, plants, animals or insects. The setup is versatile and can be rearranged to fit many research requirements.

Anthony Bridges, LSU AgCenter research associate and building coordinator, said the 15 rooms in the facility where research can be conducted are totally enclosed with their own system for temperature and humidity control and directional airflow. There is a separate laboratory suite equipped for basic microbiology, tissue culture or molecular biology.

“Some of our researchers have conducted some large animal studies in the building,” Bridges said. The facility offers animal handling, housing, necropsy and incineration facilities.

Sue Hagius, LSU AgCenter research associate, said her work at the facility will be part of Elzer’s research on new vaccines for brucellosis.

“The disease has been eradicated in cattle in the United States, but it is still a problem in some wildlife species,” Hagius said. The facility is specially designed for this level of biosafety research because each lab is fully contained.

Elzer wants university, commercial and private entity scientists to know that this facility is a place to conduct tests on plants, animals or food processing.

“The possibilities are pretty much unlimited,” Elzer said. “If a scientist needs a fully contained facility to do experiments, we have it. And the features make it attractive for university or commercial-type research.”

The building is designed with a ventilation system that uses negative air flow to filter contaminants and keep them out of the research environment. In addition to livestock animal research, the building can be fitted to do research on animals like white-tailed deer and alligators.

Bridges said there are only a few large animal containment buildings of this type in the country, and this is the only one in the South. The facility is located at the Central Research Station in Baton Rouge.

Johnny Morgan is a communications specialist with LSU AgCenter Communications.

(This article was published in the fall 2012 issue of Louisiana Agriculture magazine.)

1/16/2013 11:05:57 PM
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