Levin Hall at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston was packed for the dedication of the Galveston National Laboratory, a facility for research on therapeutics, vaccines and diagnostics aimed at addressing emerging infectious diseases in high- and maximum-containment laboratories.
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"On behalf of the University of Texas Medical Branch, I want to welcome and thank you for participating in this historic occasion,the dedication of our Galveston National Laboratory," said UTMB President Dr. David Callender in welcoming the large audience. "The first national laboratory in Texas and one of only two such facilities dedicated to the safe study of some of the most serious threats to human health."
United States Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, who was a keynote speaker at the ceremony, noted that it is Veterans Day and led the crowd in an ovation to those who have served in the armed forces.
"We are all coming together," Hutchison said, acknowledging the work of the community to recover from Hurricane Ike, and giving credit to the community for the establishment of the laboratory when other communities have resisted such facilities. "The fact that the community came together to support this facility is the reason that we are opening and dedicating it today and the other national one that was designated at Boston University is not open and is absolutely stopped from opening since 2007."
Another keynote address was delivered by Dr. Carole Heilman from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases National Institutes of Health, who spoke instead of Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the NIAID, who was ill.
Others who spoke included Dr. Stanley M. Lemon, Director of the Institute for Human Infections and Immunity and Principal Investigator for the Galveston National Laboratory: Dr. Kenneth Shine, Chancellor ad interim and Executive Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs of the University of Texas System; H. Scott Caven, Jr., Chair of the UT System Board of Regents and Colleen McHugh, Chair of the Health Affairs Committee of the UT System Board of Regents.
Rabbi James I. Kessler of Temple B'Nai Israel offered the invocation and benediction. The Houston-Galveston Coast Guard provided the Color Guard.