SPOKANE — The Washington State Board of Regents on Friday approved creation of a new school that will focus on research and treatment of diseases passed from animals to humans.
Just how the new School for Global Animal Health will be paid for is not known, but the university is expected to announce Monday a record $25 million grant from the Bill &Melinda Gates Foundation for the school, The Spokesman-Review newspaper reported Friday.
WSU President Elson Floyd told the regents Friday at their meeting in Richland that the school will be administered by the College of Veterinary Medicine. WSU hopes to house the school in an $83.5 million building. Its request for money was not included in state’s latest budget.
About 70 percent of the diseases that affect humans have their origins in animals, Floyd said. Those “zoonotic” diseases, like rabies and tuberculosis, are caused by infectious agents that can be transmitted between, or shared by, animals and humans.
Floyd said the school will bring together scientists who are experts in human and animal disease.
The school will coordinate the university’s efforts in infectious disease research and diagnostics, with a particular focus on the intersection of human and animal disease, he said.
The Pullman-based university announced it will hold a news conference in Seattle to discuss the gift from the Gates Foundation. School spokesman James Tinney on Friday would not release details or the grant amount, characterized as the largest private gift in the university’s history.
WSU Foundation spokesman Trevor Durham said Friday he could not comment on the Gates grant, but said the previous largest single donation was a $7 million gift from The Boeing Co. in 1993.
Floyd has said WSU’s expertise in veterinary medicine and animal health put it in a position to become a worldwide leader on research and treatment of infectious diseases between humans and animals.