National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility

National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility

Location: Manhattan, KS

The National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) will be a state-of-the-art biocontainment laboratory for the study of diseases that threaten both America’s animal agricultural industry and public health. DHS S&T is building the facility to standards that fulfill the mission needs of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) which will own, manage and operate the NBAF once construction and commissioning activities are complete. The NBAF will strengthen our nation’s ability to conduct research, develop vaccines, diagnose emerging diseases, and train veterinarians.

Protecting the Nation's Food Supply and Public Health

According to the World Health Organization, approximately 75 percent of new and emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic diseases which may be transmitted from animals to humans. The United States currently does not have a laboratory facility with maximum biocontainment (BSL-4) space to study high-consequence zoonotic diseases affecting large livestock. The NBAF will be the first laboratory facility in the U.S. to provide BSL-4 laboratories capable of housing cattle and other large livestock. The NBAF will also feature a vaccine development module to augment its laboratory research and accelerate the transfer of new science and technology into the marketplace.

The NBAF’s location in Manhattan, Kansas, places it within the Kansas City Animal Health Corridor, the largest concentration of animal health companies in the world. The NBAF will be constructed and operated on a secure federally owned site on the northwest corner of the Kansas State University (KSU), adjacent to KSU’s Biosecurity Research Institute in Pat Roberts Hall.

Why is A New Facility Necessary?

Animal disease research is currently performed at the Plum Island Animal Disease Center (PIADC). However, the aging facility is nearing the end of its lifecycle. It is also too small to meet research needs in relation to emergent and foreign animal disease threats. The NBAF is necessary to meet the requirements of Homeland Security Presidential Directive 9 (HSPD-9). As USDA mission requirements expand to meet these challenges, a new facility with more integration, expanded biocontainment capabilities and larger physical space is necessary to fulfill future needs.

Designed to Ensure Safety and Security

The NBAF is designed to meet or exceed modern biocontainment design principles and standards. The laboratory’s critical systems will include redundant safety and biocontainment features. In the case of a tornado, the facility’s biocontainment areas are designed to a standard similar to that applied in the nuclear industry for structural and containment integrity. All recommendations identified in prior risk assessments were incorporated into the NBAF design.

A National Research Council report found that the current NBAF design incorporates best practices used in other animal and zoonotic pathogen laboratory facilities in the United States and abroad. The NBAF will be the nation’s only large animal BSL-4 facility built to safely handle pathogens that do not currently have treatments or countermeasures.

DHS will not build the NBAF unless it can be done in a safe manner. The USDA and the Centers for Disease Control will not issue a certificate of registration allowing select agent research at the NBAF until all requirements are satisfied.

Operations Will Begin in 2022

The federal government is developing a plan to provide a seamless transition from PIADC to the NBAF that includes an overlap of operations to make certain there is no interruption of the critical science mission and operational capabilities. Construction activities are underway, facility commissioning will be completed in May 2021, and the facility will be fully operational in December 2022. Current operations at PIADC will continue until the mission is transitioned to the NBAF in 2023.

Current Project Status

NBAF construction site pictured East to West.

As of February 2018, the $1.25B NBAF project is approximately 56 percent complete. The facility's main laboratory construction and commissioning activities were initiated in May 2015 and remain on schedule for May 2021 completion. The laboratory will not open until all necessary permits and registrations are received, which is scheduled to occur by December 2022. 

Significant NBAF construction milestones to-date include the following:

  • Central Utility Plant (CUP): Construction for the NBAF CUP initiated in March 2013 and was completed in October 2015.
  • Site Preparation: Site prep for NBAF initiated in November 2010 and was completed in August 2012.
  • Facility Design: The NBAF's design initiated in March 2007 and was completed in July 2012.

Project Documentation

The federal government is committed to open communication and providing stakeholders with access to pertinent information and relevant documentation regarding the planning, design, and construction of the NBAF.

The Record of Decision (ROD), which documents the agency’s final decision, was signed on January 12, 2009 and published in the Federal Register on January 16, 2009. All comments on the NBAF Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) were considered before the Record of Decision was issued.


DHS is fully committed to providing the public access to information about its role in NBAF and opportunities for involvement. For the latest on NBAF construction employment or business opportunities visit our NBAF Opportunities page.

You may direct other specific inquiries to the following:

DHS S&T NBAF Program Manager
Department of Homeland Security
245 Murray Lane, SW
Washington, DC 20528-0217

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