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UCLA unveils new laboratory to fight bio-terrorism

May 20, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
We could be kept safer from disease and bio-terrorism by a one-of-a kind bio-laboratory unveiled Friday at the University of California, Los Angeles.

The multi-million dollar lab has been in the making for a long time and can quickly detect disease to keep it from spreading.

"It's been 10 years," said Advisory Board Member Cindy Horn, UCLA School of Public Health. "This is the best day of my life."

This is no ordinary lab. It's a state-of-the-art, high speed, high volume automated laboratory designed to be the next weapon against bio-terrorism and infectious diseases.

"People around the world can rest a little bit easier because of this lab," said Horn. "This has the potential to save hundreds, thousands and maybe even millions of lives- God forbid we ever get to that place."

The country has already had its share of experiences with bio-terrorism. In 2001, anthrax letters were sent to lawmakers and news organizations as the nation reeled in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

More recently, health officials across the globe were on alert after outbreaks of the swine flu and SARS. UCLA's new global bio-lab is equipped to test high volumes of deadly agents quickly.

"For example to find out where did that agent come from," said UCLA School of Public Health Dean Linda Rosenstock. "Did it start in Mexico? Did it start in Asia? How's it changing over time? How might we develop a vaccine to protect against it? Really the possibilities are endless."

"With this global bio-lab we will not only have surveillance to know what public health threat may be coming, but to respond to it," said State Representative Henry A. Waxman. "To give the important info to the appropriate law enforcement people. And even more importantly to train and have available the personnel in public health that will be able to respond in these types of emergencies."

UCLA raised $32 million for the lab from private, state and federal funding.

"It creates jobs, it reduces deficit, and improves health and our security," said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. "It's a win-win all around. Congratulations."

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