Las Cruces, New Mexico (KTSM) – The National Institutes of Health will be giving a $7 million grant to New Mexico State University.

NMSU says Biology Professor Timothy Wright led the effort to secure the $7.1 million infrastructure grant from the NIH called C06, which refers to a large construction of biomedical relevance. Due to increases in construction costs, some of the biomedical facilities planned under previous General Obligation Bonds for facilities that are now under construction had to be scaled back. However, this grant will allow the biomedical facilities currently under construction to be expanded to support additional resources originally envisioned for a wild animal research facility.

NMSU says the funds will help the current planned biomedical facilities under construction including wild animal research facilities. NMSU System Chancellor Dan Arvizu says, “This is outstanding news for our researchers as well as our students. This funding will help to create a state-of-the-art facility to enhance our biomedical research and strengthen the training we provide for our diverse student populations. This is a game changer when it comes to addressing the health of border communities and minority populations in New Mexico and the region.”

Luis Cifuentes, NMSU’s vice president of research, is the principal investigator on the project and a critical partner in the collaboration. He says, “This award will have significant impact on our research capability. This facility will support NMSU’s biomedical research strengths in emerging infectious diseases, cancer and health disparities in underserved populations; enhance training of students from underrepresented populations; and promote research addressing the health of border communities and minority populations in New Mexico.”

Enrico Pontelli, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, says the expanded biomedical facility will also help in recruiting researchers in biology, animal sciences and other disciplines.

Biology Professor Immo Hansen explained the enhanced facilities will not only support NMSU’s strength in emerging infectious diseases, but also the training of a diverse cadre of students in the use of animal models in biomedical research to contribute to the strengthening of the national biomedical workforce.

“The insectary part of the biomedical research facility will be used to raise arthropods that are human disease vectors,” Professor Hansen said. “Mosquitoes, ticks and kissing bugs may very well be the vectors of the next global pandemic, so studying them is of utmost importance. In these new facilities, we will be able to research and educate the next generation of vector biologists on the biology, surveillance and control of these disease vectors.” 

Entomology Professor Alvaro Romero says the expanded biomedical facility will enhance his ability to study various insects that impact public health. The wild animal research expansion is expected to be completed in 2024.

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