Kazakhstan began work yesterday on a high-tech laboratory in Almaty that is intended to aid global efforts to identify, assess and respond to naturally occurring disease outbreaks and biological weapon attacks (see GSN, Dec. 22, 2009).
The facility is being funded through the U.S. Cooperative Threat Reduction program, according to a press release from Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ind.).
"This laboratory is the culmination of cooperation to safely and securely store disease pathogens and develop a robust disease detection and surveillance network," U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency Director Kenneth Myers said in a released statement at the ceremonial groundbreaking. The Defense Department agency oversees the Nunn-Lugar initiative (U.S. Senator Richard Lugar release, March 30).
"Kazakhstan's Central Reference Laboratory, funded by the U.S. Department of Defense ... will dramatically increase the security of Kazakhstan's collections of especially dangerous pathogens and strengthen the scientific capabilities of Kazakhstani and Central Asian scientists," said U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan Richard Hoagland in released remarks.
"Under the leadership of President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Kazakhstan and the United States have worked together with great success for nearly two decades to secure and eliminate all forms of weapons of mass destruction," Hoagland added (U.S. Embassy in Kazakhstan release, March 30).
The $103 million laboratory is set to house highly secure Biosafety Level 2 and 3 research areas containing state-of-the-art molecular diagnostic and research equipment for the study of contagious animal and human diseases, according to information provided by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (Global Security Newswire, March 31).