Facilities remodeled to assist research efforts

By Ken Goze

NIU’s biological sciences department will expand its research efforts and get a jump on stringent new federal regulations after $418,000 in remodeling of the animal facilities in Montgomery Hall is completed.

Biological Sciences Chairman Marvin Starzyk said the project is necessary to expand and update equipment in the 20-year-old facility.

NIU Project Manager Conrad Miller said the remodeling, paid for with funds made available from the fiscal year 1990 Build Illinois Project, includes the costs of engineers, contractors, and a contingency budget.

Miller said he hopes to have scope statements detailing the requirements of the project, completed by Dec.1, so engineers can be hired to draw plans and accept bids from contractors.

In addition to expansion and modernization, the remodeling will bring the program into compliance with any forseeable federal regulations, which set minimum standards for the care of laboratory animals, Starzyk said.

The facilities are periodically inspected by veterinarians, and compliance is necessary for research grants from federal agencies such as the National Institute of Health and the National Science Foundation.

Although the animal facilities are in compliance with all current regulations, Starzyk said they will be updated and tightened soon. “We know it’s coming, and rather than wait until the last minute, we’re taking positive steps now to comply with them. We always strive to be above what is expected of us,” Starzyk said.

The remodeling of the facility, which houses mice, rabbits and rats for research, will require the removal of several walls and the addition of a large, automatic cage washer.

In addition to the expansion and updating of the animal facilities, Starzyk said the BSD has entered into a formal research agreement with scientists from the Soviet republic of Azerbaijan.