Sen. Cassidy secures $7 million for LSU Health’s Emerging Viral Threats Lab, Center for Medical Education

On Friday, March 25, 2022, LSU Health Shreveport celebrated the two-year anniversary of its...
On Friday, March 25, 2022, LSU Health Shreveport celebrated the two-year anniversary of its Emerging Viral Threats (EVT) lab.(KSLA)
Published: Mar. 29, 2022 at 6:01 AM CDT
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SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - While COVID-19 transmission rates remain at low levels across Louisiana, the federal government is bolstering its support for a lab that has played a key role in tracking and slowing the spread of the virus.

LSU Health Shreveport recently announced that Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana) locked in $7 million for the Emerging Viral Threats (EVT) lab, the money itself being appropriated from the Department of Health and Human Services.

“This supports a strategy by which LSU Health Shreveport can better track the spread of coronavirus now and other infections in the future,” Sen. Cassidy wrote in a statement. “This keeps us healthier and lowers healthcare costs.”

Since its launch two years ago as the pandemic began raging across the country, LSU Health’s EVT lab has completed more than 600,000 COVID tests and and administered over 120,000 doses of the COVID vaccine.

MORE>>> LSU Health Shreveport celebrates 2-year anniversary of its Emerging Viral Threats lab

“I think it’s pretty clear that the federal government views investing in our future for pandemic preparedness is a high priority,” said Dr. Chris Kevil, vice chancellor for research at LSU Health. “The reason why it’s indispensable is because it’s going to help us continue to screen and follow the virus to do surveillance.”

The lab is also instrumental in tracking the spread of the virus, which allows public health leaders to better understand the rate of transmission in any community. This is a process called genomic sequencing.

“I think this pandemic has taught us many lessons, the least of which is to be prepared,” Dr. Kevil said. “All of the lessons we’ve learned over the past two years, coupled with new infrastructure that will be established, will allow us to be even more nimble.”

The EVT lab will soon find a new home on the fourth floor of the sprawling, 165,000 square-foot Center for Medical Education (CME), which is currently under construction on LSU Health’s campus. Officials say if all goes as planned, the CME should be complete in the fall of 2023.

The CME will include a Bio Safety Level 3 lab, which will use state-of-the-art technology to address viral outbreaks in the future.

“I greatly appreciate the work and support of Senator Cassidy, who was instrumental in establishing this funding for LSUHS,” Dr. Kevil said.

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