The Central Public Health Reference Laboratory (CPHRL), a U.S. funded biological research facility, was inaugurated in Tbilisi on 18 March. The CPHRL is designed to detect dangerous infectious diseases in human beings and animals, to conduct epidemiological research and combat the global spread of diseases.
With the investment of 100 million USD in its construction, the CPHRL is part of the existing international network of such laboratories. It is the first of this type in the Caucasus and the sixth in the world.
According to U.S. Ambassador to Georgia John Bass, the CPHRL will allow to control diseases. This is of great importance not only for Georgia but for the entire region and the world as well.
To a reporter’s questions as to what Russia’s reaction may be to the opening of this Laboratory, Andrew Weber, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Defense Programs, replied that Russia would also benefit from the CPHRL. Pathogens do not recognize political borders, he said, and recalled H1N1 (the so-called swine flu) virus that spread throughout the world from Mexico.
The research facility is located on a 8,000-square-meter land. The Laboratory itself occupies 2,551 square meters. The CPHRL will be staffed by Georgian and U.S. personnel. They will raise a new generation of researchers as well.
According to the U.S. Embassy in Georgia, this newly established Laboratory will cooperate with other public health research laboratories, including those in Bangkok, Thailand and Nairobi, Kenya.
A Board of Governors, consisting of representatives of Georgian and U.S. governments, will determine the lab’s research agenda. The CPHRL will be led by Anna Zhvania, who has held various positions in the government of Georgia, including the position of head of the Foreign Intelligence Special Service.