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Biosecurity Research Institute

BRI Employee Group PhotoAbout the BRI

The Biosecurity Research Institute (BRI) is located at Pat Roberts Hall on the Kansas State University (K-State) campus. It was designed and constructed to meet or exceed biosafety level 3 (BSL-3) and biosafety level 3 agriculture (BSL-3Ag) standards. This facility provides K-State scientists and their collaborators with a safe and secure location to study high-consequence pathogens affecting plants, animals, and food products, including zoonotic pathogens that infect humans.

BRI’s mission, “Leading through research and education to protect agriculture and the public from biological threats,” supports our vision, “By 2025, K-State’s BRI will be internationally recognized and respected as a leader for research and education on high consequence pathogens.”

The BRI is a unique facility that provides research, education and training space to support animal disease scientists, food safety researchers, plant pathologists, entomologists, and those studying the basic molecular biology of high-consequence animal, human, and plant pathogens. Research at the BRI will ensure a safe food supply and help prevent major economic losses to the agriculture and food industries. The BRI enables researchers to evaluate all aspects of the food chain, from the raw material to the finished product. This multi-disciplinary approach complements the land grant mission of K-State and makes the BRI the home of comprehensive infectious disease research to address threats to agriculture and public health.

The pace of globalization has increased dramatically over the last few decades and projections are that the trend will continue. People and products move over greater distances in shorter periods of time than ever before. As a consequence, the distribution of pathogens and insect pests is also expanding. Populations of hosts, pathogens, and vectors are overlapping at greater frequencies, resulting in the emergence of new diseases and the reemergence of previously controlled diseases. These pathogens and pests threaten our animal- and plant-based agricultural systems and ultimately human health and well-being. Therefore, the development of new diagnostics, vaccines, and therapeutics for effective control is essential to global health. The safe and secure capabilities of the BRI allow scientists to work with these organisms before disease outbreak and provide opportunities to gain a deeper understanding of biological threats. To better prepare the nation for disease outbreaks, BRI scientists are working with these organisms to improve detection, modeling, prevention and treatments.

The BRI has a broader research and training focus than most other containment laboratories. It accommodates pertinent research in the areas of veterinary medicine (animal disease), plant pathology, food processing safety, vector biology, medical entomology, and molecular biology. This integration allows K-State to have comprehensive infectious disease research programs including high-consequence zoonotic pathogens and pests that threaten our food production systems.

To accommodate the comprehensive interdisciplinary research focus, the BRI has a combination of BSL-3 biocontainment spaces that are not commonly found under one roof. These include not only BSL-3Ag livestock housing and specialized spaces to study plant diseases or plant-based vaccines, but also large, versatile spaces to facilitate research at BSL-3 that requires very large equipment important to the food processing industry (e.g., meatpacking line, produce-packing line). If necessary, these spaces could be rapidly modified to support other National needs; for example, projects related to the transportation industry (airline passenger and cargo holds) and residential and tourism industries (hotel room, ship berth).

Professional staff, together with dedicated training and education spaces, support research, education and outreach activities, safety, security, compliance, and operations.

BRI research focuses on:

  • Infectious diseases that threaten livestock and humans, including transboundary diseases and zoonotic diseases
  • Pathogens that threaten food crops
  • Food processing methods
  • Biology of pathogens and diseases
  • Global health and One Health

Education and Training Program Areas:

  • Operations and maintenance of biocontainment facilities training
  • Laboratory BSL-3 theoretical and practical biosafety training
  • Large animal biosafety level 3 training
  • Cybersecurity training
  • Emergency response and first responders training
  • Customized curriculum development and delivery