A $250,000 gift from diagnostics company Abaxis to the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine has helped establish the new Center of Excellence for Vector-Borne Diseases. The center, publicly launched April 8, is an interdisciplinary research center with a mission to combat vector-borne diseases, focusing on pathogenesis, surveillance, and disease prevention.
Roman Ganta, PhD, professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology, is director of the center. “This gift will, in part, allow us to promote the advancement of knowledge on vector-borne diseases of importance to companion and agricultural animals and humans, including the diseases caused by Ehrlichia, Anaplasma, Rickettsia, and Borrelia species,” he said.
The center’s goals are to develop programs to prepare future generations of scientists with expertise on vector-borne diseases, offer continuing education workshops, and develop resources, such as a repository to maintain culture stocks of vector-borne pathogens. The center also hopes to establish a tick-rearing facility.
The center plans to develop a network to build research programs that promote collaborations among Kansas State University faculty who have shared interests as well as faculty and researchers at other academic institutions and industry in the U.S. and foreign countries.
“We have followed the excellent work of Dr. Ganta and his group in their pursuit of understanding vector-borne diseases—including the pathogens’ evasion mechanisms and hosts’ response to these infections. His group brings together molecular biology, immunology, animal models, and cell culture systems to pursue its goals,” said Dr. Dennis Bleile, senior director of research and development at Abaxis.