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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


OARDC Names Research Lab After Former U.S. Rep. Ralph Regula

February 23, 2012

WOOSTER, Ohio -- Ohio State University’s Board of Trustees has approved naming the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center’s (OARDC) Plant and Animal Agrosecurity Research Facility (PAAR) in honor of longtime U.S. Rep. Ralph Regula.

Regula, who represented Ohio’s 16th Congressional District during 18 consecutive terms starting in 1972, was instrumental in acquiring federal funding for the PAAR facility’s design, engineering and construction. The 16th District includes Wooster, where OARDC is located.

“Ralph Regula was always a champion, not only for his state, but for his home district in particular,” OARDC Director Steve Slack said. “Recognizing his continued contributions to OARDC, as well as assistance with this facility, makes this naming event extremely appropriate. We are honored as well.”

Unveiled last Sept. 16, PAAR is the first facility in Ohio and one of only two nationally with capacity for research on infectious diseases of both plants and large animals at the BSL-3 (biosafety level 3) and BSL-3 Agriculture safety levels.

“There are many concerns now about where we are going with our food supply, our ability to feed a growing population,” Regula said at the facility’s unveiling ceremony. “That’s why it’s so important to have facilities like OARDC to make our land more productive and our food safe. It’s great to finally have this (PAAR) facility to make our lives safer.”

In addition to two BSL-3 labs, the PAAR facility will include four BSL-3 Ag isolation rooms, which are needed to work with large animals, such as cows. Under federal guidelines, all facilities handling potentially infectious agents must adhere to strict procedures to ensure containment of these pathogens. Depending on the ease with which microorganisms can be transmitted, they are classified as BSL-1, BSL-2, BSL-3 or BSL-4, with BSL-4 carrying the highest risk of infection.

Ohio State operates several BSL-3 labs on its Columbus campus, but this is the first to be built on the Wooster campus -- and the first BSL-3 Ag lab at the university with capacity for work with livestock.

The PAAR facility is expected to significantly boost research on a number of disease organisms and pests capable of causing billions of dollars in losses to crops, trees and livestock. These include emerald ash borer, an invasive insect that is projected to cause $3 billion in economic loss to Ohio communities over the next decade; soybean rust, a devastating disease that could jeopardize Ohio's $1 billion a year soybean industry; and avian influenza, which threatens the state's $93 million turkey industry.

Animal-borne diseases such as avian influenza can sicken humans as well, so the research conducted by OARDC scientists at PAAR is also expected to contribute to advancements in public health. However, no human studies will be conducted at this facility.

PAAR is also expected to enhance OARDC's ability to attract highly competitive faculty and grants to the state. Moreover, PAAR will add to infrastructure critical for the BioHio Research Park -- a project currently being developed on the Wooster campus that seeks to establish public-private business partnerships and spur job creation in the agricultural biosciences in northeast Ohio.

More information about PAAR is available at

The largest university agricultural bioscience research center in the nation, OARDC is the research arm of Ohio State's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.


Mauricio Espinoza
Steve Slack