The COVID-19 pandemic has made clear the importance of investing in our public health and research infrastructure. For too long, investments in the science that would let us know about potential pathogens and prevent them from spreading have been flat.
It’s easy to understand why. Spending public funds for research doesn’t benefit anyone directly in the short term, except for those doing the work. And given the difficulties of doing good science, sometimes promising theories have to be discarded. When weighed against the needs of our public school and health systems, against the needs of our military and retirees, the need for this research can fade into the background.
Until the pandemic strikes.
We can now see directly, every day and in every report of new infections and hospitalizations, why it makes sense to keep dollars and other support flowing to scientists. We have seen firsthand how their dedication and labors keep us healthy, and how efforts to limit their voices can put us at risk.
All of this is prelude, in a way, to exciting news for Kansans. As reported by Alice Mannette of The Hutchinson News, “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.”
Given the less-than-enlightening intitalism of CEZID, the center will focus on precisely the kind of research we need to prevent — or lessen the impact — of another pandemic. It will study diseases that jump from animals to humans, as the new coronavirus did, and attempt to understand how they work.
“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,” said Dr. Jürgen Richt, Regents distinguished professor at Kansas State University and a Kansas Bioscience Authority eminent scholar in the College of Veterinary Medicine.
This is an exciting investment, not just for Kansas but for our country as a whole.
The more research we can do, the more tightly we can track new viruses, the more able we will be to stop their spread in the general population. We will be able to keep more people healthy, for longer.
Congratulations to K-State.