COLLABORATION

Zoetis animal health lab to bring research, jobs to Colorado State

SOURCE: Shutterstock
The Zoetis Incubator Research Lab will study livestock immune systems and target new immunotherapies. 


By U2B Staff 

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Colorado State University (CSU) will be welcoming a multibillion-dollar business into its Research Innovation Centre next year, thanks to a collaboration deal that will offer students and faculty jobs and research opportunities in animal health

The Zoetis Incubator Research Lab will take up a 3,000 ft space or 40 percent of the centre’s entire second floor to study livestock immune systems and target new immunotherapies. 

Through its work at CSU, the world’s biggest animal drugs company hopes to develop new anti-infective alternatives to antibiotics for food-producing livestock. 

“This is early exploratory research where we’re trying to better understand the basic biology of the cattle immune system,” Zoetis senior vice president of Global Therapeutics Research Rob Polzer says in Coloradoan.

“We’re really looking for intervention points in order to help animals maintain sense of wellness as they are moved through and around the United States.” 

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Reducing the use of antibiotics in livestock is necessary to help control the spread of drug-resistant diseases, which has become an area of heightened global concern.

Polzer says there are not many alternatives to antibiotics in the market currently but Zoetis hopes its groundbreaking work at CSU will result in advancements to fill that need.

animal health jobs
Zoetis hopes to develop alternatives to antibiotics for food-producing livestock. Source: Shutterstock

The arrangement will see Zoetis scientists working side-by-side with CSU researchers, with ready access to the school’s core laboratories, research programmes and services, and graduate students to seed innovations for livestock animal health. The lab’s initial focus will be biotherapeutics for cattle, which could, in turn, yield broader implications for pigs and poultry.

“Our agreement with Zoetis represents the beginning of an era of collaboration, cooperation and innovation between public and private research leaders, all in the interest of improving animal health,” says Ray Goodrich, executive director of the Infectious Disease Research Center and a professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology at CSU.

He added that the research lab would provide a host of opportunities for the university and Fort Collins folk, such as jobs and research opportunities in animal health. It would also bolster CSU’s land grant mission to explore opportunities with community benefits.

“The success of our efforts will have the potential to translate into products and services that may greatly improve the health and well-being of farm animals and our agricultural communities,” he says.

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Before landing on CSU, Polzer said Zoetis researched many other universities. CSU was selected because it had what the firm needed: research and scientific expertise, as well as young talents.

“We realized CSU would be a great potential collaborator as we focus on trying to develop livestock immunotherapies,” Polzer said.

“CSU represents a great hub in Fort Collins, near Denver and Boulder, and it’s really emerging as biotech center of excellence.”

Zoetis is CSU’s biggest corporate partner to date. The world’s biggest animal drugs company currently sells its products in over 100 countries and employs more than 10,000 people. Last year, it recorded an annual revenue of US$5.8 billion.

CSU has traditionally collaborated with smaller firms and startups. These include Vivaldi Biosciences, a company that researches universal flu vaccines, as well as SiVEC Biotechnologies LLC, which is developing treatments to prevent avian influenza.

These private firms currently occupy spaces on the second floor of the Research Innovation Centre, and will be Zoetis’ new neighbours.

Zoetis’ CSU outpost will be part of the firm’s global R&D network. It plans to hire up to 20 livestock research scientists, immunologists and cell biologists in Fort Collins beginning this fall.