Rhode Island Breaks Ground on $82 Million State-of-the-Art Public Health Laboratory

A move towards modernizing the state laboratory and integrating genomics sequencing as a standard.

Rhode Island Governor Dan McKee and state leaders breaking ground on a new state-of-the-art laboratory

Rhode Island Governor Dan McKee and state leaders breaking ground on a new state-of-the-art laboratory

In late October, Rhode Island state leaders, including Governor Dan McKee, gathered in Providence to celebrate the new construction of the state’s public health laboratory. The facility is planned to be more energy efficient and provide a more optimized workspace with capacity to handle surges in response activity. The building will also be home to a new Center for Biological Sciences that will function as a dedicated Genomics Sequencing Core Laboratory, with an estimated space of 2700 square feet. The laboratory will enable the Rhode Island State Health Laboratory (RISHL) to continue providing high-quality scientific testing through genomic sequencing of infectious disease.

RISHL plays a critical role in investigating and mitigating life-threatening diseases, including H1N1, Ebola, Zika, and COVID-19. It performs molecular sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 and other pathogens to detect, respond to, control, and prevent infectious diseases. They also provide essential services for state and municipal agencies to ensure the safety of drinking water, food, local shellfish, and dairy products.

The $81.7 million award comes from CDC’s Office of AMD, which provides outreach and funding via the Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity for Prevention and Control of Emerging Infectious Diseases (ELC) Cooperative Agreement, to support public health departments in their efforts to modernize infectious disease laboratories. The total project cost is expected to be $165 million. Rhode Island is one of seven jurisdictions to receive construction awards to improve state laboratory facilities to expand and modernize infectious disease laboratories.

“Genomic surveillance is an increasingly important part of public health work and can be applied to almost any bacterial and viral pathogens,” says Duncan MacCannell, Acting Director, Office of Advanced Molecular Detection. “This new lab will provide a significant contribution to outbreak investigations. We’re excited to see Rhode Island, and surrounding areas, benefit from this facility.”

This funding effort is a part of AMD’s efforts to integrate the latest next-generation genomic sequencing technologies. Using bioinformatics and epidemiology expertise across the nation, state and local public health departments are better able to find, track, and stop disease-causing pathogens faster than ever before.