UNC Gives Up Grant to Expand Animal Research

The University has turned down a $14.5 million federal stimulus grant to expand an animal research facility in southwestern Orange County because it would cost about $20 million more to bring the complex up to acceptable standards of wastewater treatment and other requirements.

The National Institutes of Health grant would have provided funding for two new buildings at the Bingham Facility, where UNC uses dogs and hogs to study hemophilia and muscular dystrophy in two existing buildings.

“We made a business decision that it was not the wisest use of University facilities to pursue a full buildout of all the buildings we had planned out there,” said Robert Lowman, associate vice chancellor for research and a research professor of psychology. He cited expenses related to water and sewer, natural gas and other requirements in the rural setting.

The University has been cited by the state twice recently for spilling wastewater at the site.

Lowman said UNC probably could accommodate the needs of the research without the expansion, He said options include expanding the Frances Owen Blood Research Lab near University Lake, and moving some of the animals to another facility the University leases in Hillsborough.

“It’s a tough decision. So the challenge now is to make sure we protect the science and provide the facilities that are needed.”

UNC already was building a third structure at Bingham that will enable it to expand the research from about 85 dogs to about 125. That is expected to be finished late this year, but will not accommodate the expected growth of the research.

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