Ground has been broken for the construction of a multi-million-dollar research facility at the St. Kitts Campus of Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine.
The Research and Pathology Building represents a USD$9.5 million (EC$26 million) investment in the RUSVM program and will feature 11,000 square feet of laboratory space, which will consist of five laboratories with the capacity to expand in the future.
Additionally the building will include a necropsy facility with a viewing gallery to enhance student learning, and a 3,000 square foot vivarium.
The building will be designed to BSL2 Biosafety Standards and is expected to be complete during the first quarter of 2016.
St. Kitts and Nevis’ Minister of Education, Sen. the Hon. Nigel Carty, joined RUSVM officials during the ceremony for the Research and Pathological Center.
In his remarks, Minister Carty said that the new facility is important and a step in the right direction in having a leading research institution in St. Kitts and Nevis and the region that will serve the RUSVM faculty and students.
“The future of the University is intimately linked to the well-being of the surrounding community, and St. Kitts and Nevis as a whole. This building represents an opportunity for RUSVM, researchers and Government ministries to work together on common areas of interests, such as health, agriculture and the environment that are all critical to the development of our country,” Minister Carty told invited guests.
He added that the research center has the potential to illustrate what is best of St. Kitts and Nevis and of the Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine.
Minister Carty said the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Government values education and the development of programs and centers of research, which enable the most talented citizens and those from around the world to work and share ideas.
“This facility, upon its completion, has the potential to attract some of the best minds in cutting-edge fields of research from across the various disciplines, and from across the world,” said Carty.
He affirmed that the Ministry of Education has embraced the vision of RUSVM, and acknowledges the work of the dean to develop multi-disciplinary research that would have impact locally and internationally.
Dean of the RUSVM, Elaine Watson, DSc, PhD, FRCVS, spoke of the importance of linkages and research between human health and animals.
Over the past several months, Ross University has been recruiting experts in the fields of research and has formed strategic partnerships with renowned institutions worldwide.
“RUSVM faculty members have participated in research projects totaling more than US$21 million… Our faculty come from some of the world’s top universities and research organizations, and they are committed to providing students with the opportunity to become deeply involved in research,” said Watson, who pointed out that RUSVM is committed to research which is key to the future of veterinary medicine.
She said it would involve collaboration among health care providers worldwide, addressing global health care issues, recognizing the interconnectivity of animal and human health.
“Our commitment to research is key to the future of veterinary medicine, which will involve collaborations among healthcare providers worldwide, addressing global healthcare issues and recognizing the interconnectivity of animal and human health,” said Watson. “This building will support the educational efforts that RUSVM is already known for, and provide up-to-date lab space for our researchers, enhancing the academic programme.”
Dean Watson joined RUSVM almost three years ago, initiating a strategic refocus of RUSVM’s priorities—strengthening the use of research as part of the educational program, internationalizing the student body, and developing postgraduate master’s and PhD programs. RUSVM has been focused on the recruitment of leaders in their research fields, collaborations and partnerships with top universities, institutes and industry, throughout the globe, to transform the school.
Research in the facility will include: Improved understanding and control of zoonotic and vector-borne diseases, such as leptospirosis, dengue and chikungunya that are serious problems in our region causing disability and death of the local population while also threatening tourism; development and evaluation of treatments in animal models of human disease; protection of threatened and endangered species and ecosystems in the Caribbean, for example marine turtle conservation research, as well as control of invasive species such as the mongoose and monkey.
RUSVM’s location in St. Kitts, a part of the Eastern Caribbean, is a region rich in contrasting ecosystems and socio-economic situations, public health issues and close animal-human interactions.
The location provides the ideal backdrop for conducting surveillance and research programs of strategic importance. RUSVM’s Research Centers advance the productivity and standing of research and research training, supporting a research-informed educational program for RUSVM students.
“The future of veterinary medicine, my future, will be impacted by veterinary research, research that future RUSVM students will be a part of,” said Ashley Danowski, RUSVM student government association president.
“This is exciting, it is an opportunity for RUSVM to lead and discover—this is only a preview of what is yet to come,” she said.