University breaks ground on Level 3 biosafety lab at its New Iberia Research Center

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The 鶹ҹ’s expansion of its New Iberia Research Center is under way, paving the way for a Level 3 biosafety lab that will enable more on-site advanced research.

A recent ground breaking for the biosafety lab marks the first step in the evolution of what will become the state’s newest economic sector.

The biosafety lab – along with the construction of the Iberia BioInnovation Accelerator in Progress Point Business Park – will create the Bieaux Tech Technology Hub in Iberia Parish.  

“The Level 3 biosafety lab at NIRC will ensure that the research center and Iberia Parish continue to play an integral, crucial role in meeting health care challenges and improving health outcomes in the years ahead,” Dr. Joseph Savoie, 鶹ҹ president, said during the groundbreaking.

“With the combined capabilities of NIRC, the biopharmaceutical manufacturing facility, and the BioInnovation Accelerator you can envision a future in which a drug is taken from research to testing to manufacturing to the marketplace with each step taking place within about 5 miles of each other. That will benefit humanity in every corner of the world. It will also benefit the region’s workforce and its economy,” Savoie continued.

Both projects are the result of a nearly $50 million investment of state capital outlay funds brought to Acadiana by its legislative leaders. Nearly $25 million is for the expansion of NIRC – the nation’s largest non-human primate center – and more than $22 million will go toward the development of the BioInnovation Accelerator drug manufacturing facility at Progress Point.

Dr. Ramesh Kolluru, 鶹ҹ’s vice president for Research, Innovation, and Economic Development, called the two projects “transformational for the University, Iberia Parish, the region, and the state of Louisiana” that “couldn’t have happened without people coming together for the greater good of where we live and also for the greater good of the lives that will be impacted.”

Preliminary economic impacts include the creation of nearly 550 new jobs with $10.6 million annual tax revenues for Iberia Parish. The total economic output is estimated to be $144.3 million.

In addition, the Acadiana Planning Commission and the University are working on plans to leverage NIRC’s capabilities, with an eye on possibilities once the Level 3 biosafety lab is operational. APC secured a $500,000 federal grant to pursue a biopharmaceutical manufacturing cluster in Iberia Parish and a plan to attract drug manufacturers who can utilize NIRC’s future lab for development and testing.

Taylor Barras, Commissioner of Administration for Louisiana, praised the work of higher education, state government, and local government at the groundbreaking event. “One of Governor Jeff Landry’s three top priorities was economic development and I can’t think of a better example of teamwork on economic development,” he said.

Both projects are expected to be completed in the next two years.

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