Morrison, researchers break ground for new virology research building

Released on 10/05/2006, at 2:00 AM
Office of University Communications
University of Nebraska–Lincoln

WHEN: Thursday, Oct. 5, 2006

WHERE: Area north of McCollum Hall (Law College), East Campus Loop and Fair Street

Lincoln, Neb., October 5th, 2006 —
Ken Morrison Life Sciences Research Center
Ken Morrison Life Sciences Research Center

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln celebrates today the ground breaking of a new virology research building, the Ken Morrison Life Sciences Research Center.

The $18.6 million, 70,000-square-foot building will house laboratories and offices for the Nebraska Center for Virology ( The building will provide a research facility designed to foster interaction and collaboration among researchers, visiting fellows, students and staff. It will include full laboratories for 12 scientists plus separate spaces for tissue culture work, a polymerase chain reaction suite, cold and dark rooms, shared microscopy and cell-flow cytometry facilities and a biological safety level-3 research laboratory suite. The building will provide virology center researchers much needed space to continue and expand on research under way at UNL's George W. Beadle Center for Genetics and Research, where the center is now headquartered.

Construction on the site begins later this fall on UNL's East Campus, east of the Veterinary Diagnostic Lab and northeast of McCollum Hall (College of Law), East Campus Loop and Fair Street, with an expected completion in December 2007. Expected to be on hand for the 4 p.m. ceremony today are Ken Morrison, Chancellor Harvey Perlman, Prem Paul, vice chancellor for research, and molecular virologist Charles Wood, director of the Nebraska Center for Virology and Lehr/3M university professor at UNL.

The Nebraska Center for Virology was established in 2000 as a Center for Biomedical Research Excellence with a five-year, $10.7 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. In 2005, the center received a second five-year grant of $10.6 million. The center links scientists at UNL, the University of Nebraska Medical Center and Creighton University. Center researchers are working to understand the molecular mechanisms that diverse viruses employ to cause diseases.

"The Nebraska Center for Virology is a signature research program here at UNL and we're very proud of the world class research team we've established," Paul said.

"This new building not only gives us space for us to expand and do things we cannot do here at the Beadle Center, but it will be providing newer technologies, newer space and a biocontainment facility," Wood said. "It also enables people to collaborate, interact and get better ideas and do better work, all under one roof."

Wood said the Center for Virology has worked on the interactions and relationships among viruses and virus transmission with the goal of discovering how immune responses occur, leading to greater abilities to create vaccines or medicines to boost immunity to viruses causing diseases like AIDS or cancer.

"We need a state-of-the-art facility for what we're doing, and this building does that," Wood said.

Morrison, a Hastings native and longtime university advocate and University of Nebraska Foundation trustee, provided the lead gift for the building. This is the latest of Morrison's numerous contributions to the university, which have included establishing the Morrison Biotechnology Fund, supporting UNL's microscopy research facility at the Beadle Center, and funding the Kenneth Morrison professorship in food engineering.

"Ken Morrison's historic support of the life sciences is extraordinary," UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman said. "Our university has benefited tremendously from his generosity."

Morrison is a general partner and business manager of Morrison Enterprises, a Nebraska-based agricultural company engaged in alfalfa production and marketing, grain storage, livestock production, farmland development and management, aquaculture and cotton and feed grain production. A longtime promoter of biotechnology, Morrison has played a major role in making UNL's biotechnology program capabilities truly impressive.

Morrison grew up in Kansas and attended McPherson College. In 1947 he and his wife Marjorie moved to Hastings where he and other family members began their agricultural business ventures. Recognized by Ak-Sar-Ben as a Leader in Business and Industry, he received the University of Nebraska Builders Award in 1991. He has had memberships in the university's Chancellor's and President's clubs. He also has helped fund a computer lab for UNMC's College of Dentistry, the Lois G. Roskens professorship in educational administration at UNO, and has been a strong supporter of university athletics.

The link below is to a color JPEG image of an architect's drawing of the future Ken Morrison Life Sciences Research Center.

CONTACTS: Prem Paul, Vice Chancellor, Research, (402) 472-3123; and
Charles Wood, Director, Nebraska Center for Virology, (402) 472-4550