Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory Facility Project

$100 million ($20 million/year for 5 years)

The Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (VDL) at Iowa State University protects animal and human health and advances Iowa’s $32.5 billion dollar animal agriculture economy. The facility processes 80,000+ cases every year, a caseload that has doubled over the past six years and is now the largest food animal caseload in the U.S. The 42 year-old facility, originally built to process 16,000 cases a year and for 10 faculty and 20 technical staff members, now houses 25 faculty and 125 technical staff.

Currently, the space is grossly outdated and potentially hazardous. 

  • Biosafety and biocontainment are compromised due to poor layout and airflow.
  • Current programs are severely overcrowded, with minimal room to expand or pursue new technologies that keep ahead of emerging diseases
  • Outdated plumbing, electrical, and HVAC systems do not support biosecurity needs.
  • Current space limits collaboration and puts ISU at a serious disadvantage when attracting or retaining top student and faculty talent

In addition, recent accreditation reports have pointed to numerous concerns that put safety and service levels at serious risk.

“The space and structural limitations of this aging facility combined with the rapid growth of the laboratory will, in the opinion of this site team, limit the laboratory’s ability to adequately respond to a large-scale foreign animal disease outbreak.” – 2017 AAVLD Accreditation Site Visit Report

As a result, a new stand-alone facility built for efficiency and biosafety is needed to keep pace with service needs. The proposed facility would encompass 150,00 GSF – approximately 30% increase in space.

With a growing global demand for meat protein and expanding international markets, a state-of-the-art VDL is critical for the early detection and effective response to disease outbreaks that may affect Iowa producers’ access to foreign markets. Iowa is already at the center of this emerging global economic trend. Iowa leads the nation in pork and egg production and ranks among the top in beef, turkey, and dairy. 

The ISU VDL is estimated to generate enough tax receipts to repay the infrastructure in roughly 2 years under normal circumstances, or just one year in an animal health emergency. In fact, a $100,000 infrastructure investments is 0.3% of Iowa’s animal agriculture economic output of $32.5 billion. Therefore, investment in the VDL provides an exponential return to Iowa’s economy and competitiveness in the global marketplace.

Upon construction of the new VDL, 50,000 square feet will be vacated in the Vet Med building. This will provide the college with an opportunity to reallocate the vacated space to address the college’s critical shortage of space for academic programs and scholarly research.

A new facility will allow the VDL to enhance the land-grant mission of providing education to teach the next generation of animal health care professionals, conducting applied research of high relevance to combat animal health and food safety issues, and offering diagnostic services that benefit individuals and the world’s animal agriculture industry.

Read more about VDL operations.

Visit the VDL website.