Fundraising is under way to come up with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's $5 million share of the cost of building a new Veterinary Diagnostic Center.

After serious and lengthy debate, the Nebraska Legislature this last session approved, and Gov. Dave Heineman signed, legislation to build a new center, with a total project cost of $55 million, of which $5 million is to come from private or other funds. The $50 million will be appropriated over 10 years in financial bonds.

The state funding will be allocated only if the university successfully raises its $5 million share.

The need for a new center is acute, said Ronnie Green, Harlan vice chancellor of UNL's Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources and NU vice president. The current center, also on UNL's East Campus, was built in 1975 and is insufficient to meet modern needs, to say nothing of future needs. The center's shortcomings include space limitations, poor ventilation and building design that carries increased risk for cross-contamination of contagious pathogens and pathogen exposure of the lab's workforce.

The center provides accurate and timely diagnosis of livestock diseases, including many that can be transmitted to humans. Diseases diagnosed at the center include anthrax, tularemia, avian influenza, West Nile virus and H1N1 flu.

The center improves animal and public health through disease surveillance, develops new testing methods, supports food safety and biomedical research and plays an important role in educating future veterinarians and scientists.

To make a gift to the Nebraska Veterinary Diagnostic Center Fund or for more information, contact Ann Bruntz, University of Nebraska Foundation director of development for IANR, at 402-458-1176 or 800-432-3216. Or go to nufoundation.org/veterinary and click on Veterinary Diagnostic Center Building Fund.