We opened TVMDL’s College Station laboratory in 1969 – the year man landed on the moon. Richard Nixon entered the White House, Dr. Denton Cooley implanted the first temporary artificial heart, and the Beatles gave their last public performance.
The world clearly has changed since 1969, especially for veterinary diagnostics. We know much more about providing rapid, accurate, affordable testing to our clients – and about protecting our employees and the public from the pathogens that come through our lab.
We also have grown to become one of the busiest diagnostic labs in the United States. TVMDL averages more than 200,000 cases each year. Of the hundreds of thousands of tests we run each year, the great majority come through the College Station lab.
As one of 12 core laboratories in the National Animal Health Laboratory Network, the routine bio-surveillance testing we perform serves as the backbone of a state, national, and global surveillance system. It supports animal health as well as trade, exports and the economic structure of Texas agriculture.
We have expanded the College Station lab three times since 1969, and the facility has served us well. However, the antiquated infrastructure jeopardizes biosafety and biosecurity within the laboratory – as well as our agency’s likelihood of obtaining accreditation from the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians (AAVLD) during the next audit cycle.
The AAVLD’s fall 2011 audit report specifically outlined the need for a new College Station facility by noting, “The laboratory in College Station is very outdated and rapidly approaching the end of its useful lifespan.”
The report also listed several inadequacies, stating: “The laboratory cannot meet current workplace safety requirements, pathogen containment, and workflow efficiency.” The AAVLD auditing body recommended “serious strategic planning to replace this aged structure in College Station.”
We have problems with heating, ventilation and proper airflow. The plumbing is poor. Many of the surfaces are porous, making them difficult to clean.
That is why – with the support of The Texas A&M University System and our Director’s Advisory Council – TVMDL is asking the Texas Legislature to approve $6 million in biennial funding to construct a new College Station lab. Funding for this exceptional item will be used to make payments on a 30-year construction note for a new facility, taking advantage of current low interest rates.
A new College Station facility capable of meeting safety and workflow requirements will ensure that TVMDL will:
- Continue to operate in support of the livestock, companion animal, and public health industries.
- Remain on the cutting edge of veterinary diagnostics and can advance diagnostic research.
- Offer the latest technology to enhance diagnostic capabilities for animal owners and veterinarians throughout Texas.
- Meet federal biosafety and biosecurity standards.
- Qualify for AAVLD re-accreditation.
If approved, the facility will be built with flexibility to allow for growth and change with emerging technologies and include space for education and collaboration, allowing TVMDL to train the next generation of veterinary diagnosticians.
It will also leverage the planned construction of a new animal bio-containment facility at Texas A&M University, and propel TVMDL and the A&M System to a leadership role in agriculture and companion animal diagnostics.