The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded the LSU AgCenter a $600,000 grant to make upgrades in the biotechnology laboratories in the Harry D. Wilson Laboratory building on the LSU campus.

The grant is from a $300 million fund made available to the NSF under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (federal stimulus dollars) being distributed to research institutions across the country to enhance their capacity to conduct research.

“The goal is to help these institutions go from good to great,” said John Russin, associate vice chancellor of the LSU AgCenter.

The AgCenter will use the money to help speed up renovations that have been under way in Wilson since 1996, when the AgCenter assumed oversight and occupancy. So far, nearly half of the two-story building has been converted into state-of-the-art laboratories shared by scientists from several disciplines including plant, soil, animal and food sciences and biological engineering.

“It’s an efficient use of resources for our scientists and engineers to share this expensive, sophisticated equipment,” Russin said. “Working in close proximity fosters collaboration in research and integrated training activities.”

The renovations will accelerate existing NSF-funded research in areas such as gene and drug delivery, plant-derived bioactive compounds, antimicrobial nanoparticle synthesis, molecular simulation of protein function, cell-based biosensors and photoactivated gene splicing.

Research discoveries at the LSU AgCenter have so far produced 96 patents and 36 plant variety protection certificates. Licensing agreements from these technologies have led to 12 start-up companies.

“LSU AgCenter research has a successful track record in leading to economic development,” Russin said.