College of Veterinary Medicine establishes Center of Excellence for Vector-Borne Diseases at Kansas State University

MANHATTAN — The College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University is establishing a new center of excellence that will focus on helping to control infectious diseases in both humans and animals.

On April 8, the Center of Excellence for Vector-Borne Diseases, or CEVBD, will be publicly launched under the guidance of Roman Ganta, professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology. The center is an interdisciplinary research center with a mission to combat vector-borne diseases with a focus on pathogenesis, surveillance and disease prevention.

"The CEVBD will prepare us well to build a nationally and internationally recognized program to combat the emerging threats of vector-borne diseases in the U.S., including bacterial, parasitic and viral diseases," Ganta said. "The center also will strive to synergize with the soon-to-be-established federal facility in Manhattan, the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility, or NBAF. The research that we will conduct will serve a role in helping to advance the goals of the K-State 2025 mission to become a Top 50 public research university."

Goals of the center also include establishing a tick-rearing facility to support the research needs of Kansas State University and other academic institutions and industry in the U.S.

"This facility is already in progress," Ganta said. "We started rearing Amblyomma americanum and Ixodes scapularis ticks. Further, we have developed a network to build research programs to promote strong collaborations among K-State faculty who have shared interests, as well as faculty and researchers at other academic institutions and industry in the U.S. and abroad."

The center also will produce programs to prepare future generations of scientists with expertise on vector-borne diseases, offering continuing education workshops and developing resources, such as a repository to maintain culture stocks of vector-borne pathogens.

"The long-term goal is to make the CEVBD a highly sustainable, reputed and one-of-a-kind center in the U.S.," Ganta said. "To ensure the successful promotion of the center's progress, two advisory panels were established, both internal and external."

The panels feature leaders in global animal health and research as well as members of the National Academies of Science. The internal advisory panel members from Kansas State University include Stephen Higgs, director of the Biosecurity Research Institute; Gary Anderson, director of the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory; Daniel Marcus, university distinguished professor of anatomy and physiology; Brian Spooner, university distinguished professor and director of the Division of Biology; and Philip Klebba, professor and head, the biochemistry and molecular biophysics department.