Senator Cornyn visits UTSA, honors laboratory


    On Nov. 14, UTSA celebrated the opening of the $10.6 million Margaret Batts Tobin Laboratory Building located on the university’s 1604 west campus.

    United States Senator John Cornyn joined President Ricardo Romo and members of the UTSA community in a ceremony to honor Margaret Tobin, the Tobin Foundation and the opening of the laboratory.

    Romo’s opening speech included remarks such as “this is a great day for San Antonio” and “this is how a good university becomes a great university.”

    Following the ceremony, those who attended the event were given a tour of the building, including the research labs.

    According to Romo, the facility is key to UTSA’s movement to become the state’s next premier research institution.

    The 22,000 square-foot facility features a biosafety level three laboratory, which requires certification by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and government security clearances for researchers. The facility will also feature six biology research laboratories, a multipurpose conference room and a computer media center.

    UTSA is now home to two biosafety level three laboratories, one of which is located in the Biotechnology, Sciences and Engineering (BSE) building.

    According to David Gabler, assistance vice president of university communications, the laboratory is a significant step in the university’s goal of becoming a premier research institution.

    ”Only a handful of universities in he United States have the equivalent level of lab space,” Gabler said. “This will help UTSA faculty and students find solutions to a number of scientific challenges and threats that face our country and the world.”

    Research conducted in the laboratory will focus on emerging infectious diseases, including anthrax, cholera, lyme disease, desert valley fever, parasitic and fungal diseases.

    This past September, the university received a $6.4 million grant to study tularemia, a naturally occurring bacterial disease found in animals, especially rabbits and rodents.

    According to Romo, the university is expected to receive an additional $8 million for research in the laboratory.

    Undergraduate students will also have an opportunity to work at graduate levels in the laboratory.

    ”We have grand plans for the university,” Romo said. “This lab is just one example of those grand plans.”