Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory
Dr. Burrough looking through microscope

When the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory opened its doors in the mid-’70s, the state-of-the-art facility was the envy of the industry.

And over the years, the VDL has performed wonders. But time marches on and things have changed at the VDL.

  • When it opened 11 faculty and 20 technical staff members worked there. Today, there are 25 faculty and more than 115 technical staff.
  • Over the past five years, the caseload has doubled. Today, the VDL’s faculty and staff process over 85,000 case submissions and conducts approximately 1.25 million diagnostic tests annually.
  • Biosafety and biocontainment issues are a concern due to layout, airflow and crowding.

The need for a new diagnostic laboratory at Iowa State has reached a critical stage and the university and college are seeking to raise $20 million for a new, stand-alone VDL that will solve these problems as well as incorporate current approaches and regulations regarding containment of biohazards.

“A new facility will ensure outstanding service and technology is available for veterinarians and livestock and poultry producers for the coming decades,” said Dr. Pat Halbur, executive director of the VDL. “The very best resources and technology will be available to VDL diagnosticians to ensure diseases and toxicoses are detected quickly and kept from spreading to neighboring herds and flocks.”

Halbur says a new VDL would have a significant positive impact on Iowa’s $15 billion food animal production industry as well as improve public health. In recent years, the only veterinary diagnostic laboratory in Iowa has met several disease outbreaks head-on. When Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv) swept through the U.S. pork industry, the VDL was at the forefront of efforts to curb the devastating consequences of this challenge.

The VDL was also essential in the process to identify and develop solutions when High Path Avian Influenza (HPAI) rocked the poultry industry. And the VDL has historically supported efforts to protect Iowa’s deer and elk from the debilitating effects of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).

In addition to seeking $20 million in private support, Iowa State and the college have submitted a five-year, $100 million request from the Iowa Legislature.