Back in 2003, UTMB received a $110 million federal grant to build one of only two national biocontainment laboratories. But the grant hinges on the university's ability to raise funds of their own to the tune of $57 million. Galveston National Laboratory Dr. Stanley Lemon says this donation from the Fondren Foundation brings the total in fundraising up to a few million dollars.
Although construction is already underway, the official groundbreaking for the facility is next week. The biosafety level 4 lab is scheduled for completion in 2008 and that is when the university must have all the money secured. The lab will be designed to handle the most pathogenic viruses and bacteria.
Scientists and students will also use the lab for research into bioterrorism and even hope to develop better vaccines for the everyday flu virus. Dr. Lemon says building the lab will provide another educational asset to the university and the Houston-Galveston region.
In addition to the Fondren Foundation donation, the lab has also secured funding from the Kleberg and Brown Foundations.