MANHATTAN–The National Institutes of Health awarded a Kansas State University-led team of veterinary researchers an $11.3 million grant under the Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence program to establish a Center on Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases.

The center will examine pathogens and the emergence of infectious diseases .

Dr. Jürgen Richt, Regents distinguished professor at Kansas State University and a Kansas Bioscience Authority eminent scholar in the College of Veterinary Medicine will will serve as director of the center. Richt is an internationally-recognized researcher has studied pathogen-host interactions in various infectious disease models, including avian and swine influenza viruses, African Swine Fever virus, Rift Valley Fever virus, prion diseases and Borna Disease Virus..

Philip Hardwidge, Ph.D., professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology in the College of Veterinary Medicine, will serve as associate director.

"The overarching goal of the CEZID is to advance our overall understanding of emerging and zoonotic infectious diseases based on research performed in the state of Kansas," Richt said in a release. "Our goals are also clearly aligned with NIH's strategic plan "Turning Discovery into Health.'"

The CEZID program brings a multi-pronged and multidisciplinary approach to understanding and attacking zoonotic infectious diseases.

According to Peter Dorhout, vice president for research at K-State, K-State’s ability to better understand how these diseases behave, which include the family of coronaviruses that comprises our current global pandemic, will enable K-State researchers to create rapid responses to future calamitous outbreaks that affect both human and animal health.

The center provides a resource to help with the study of the spread of infectious diseases and is poised to expand response to future outbreaks.

By having cooperation between private industry, government and academia, Richt said, new diseases, tests and vaccines can be discovered.