The Center of Vector-Borne Infectious Diseases (CVID), formerly known the Arthropod-borne and Infectious Disease Laboratory, is a longstanding multi-disciplinary research center within the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology at CSU. Members engage in basic and applied research to promote a more complete understanding of pathogen transmission, persistence, and emergence with the goal of improving public health and controlling of vector-borne and emerging zoonotic diseases.
We strive to:
- Advance basic knowledge surrounding pathogen-vector interactions
- Devise novel vector- and disease- control strategies
- Develop rapid, clinically, and field relevant diagnostic assays for zoonotic diseases
- Determine the emergence potential of vector-borne and zoonotic viruses
- Provide training opportunities for the next generation of scientists studying vector-borne and emerging zoonotic pathogens
CVID provides an outstanding scientific environment for researchers both inside and outside CSU for manipulating pathogens in vertebrate hosts and arthropod vectors. The CVID building and the adjacent Regional Biocontainment Laboratory (RBL) possess state-of-the-art animal containment facilities and one of the largest ACL2 and ACL3 insectary complexes in the nation. Researchers also have access to the nearby Research Innovation Complex (RIC) and CSU’s BioPharmaceutical Manufacturing and Academic Resource Center (BioMARC) to assist in translating laboratory-based discoveries to the clinic and the field.
Our focus on emerging vector-borne infectious diseases began in the late 1970s and early 1980s with the arrival of new faculty with arbovirus experience. These faculty were attracted by the proximity of CSU to the CDC Division of Vector-borne Diseases in Fort Collins; and the USDA Arthropod-Borne Animal Diseases Research Laboratory in Denver. During an university strategic planning exercise of the CVMBS Executive Council in the mid-1980s, infectious diseases was proposed as one of six areas of research focus for CSU-CVMBS by Carol Blair, head of the Department of Microbiology. A charter CSU Vice President of Research designation of Program of Research and Scholarly Excellence in infectious diseases was established to promote additional research and teaching, ultimately leading to the formation of AIDL.
The need for additional space for CSU arbovirus research, particularly to house insectaries for mosquitoes, coincided with the end of a longstanding radiation biology research program at the CRHL building on CSU’s Foothills Campus. The available building was within walking distance of the CDC – DVBID facility built adjacent to the CSU Foothills campus in 1967. With $11,000 funding to remodel the CRHL building, arbovirus laboratories and insectaries were moved, officially establishing the Arthropod-borne and Infectious Diseases Laboratory (AIDL) in 1987. Initial faculty included Barry Beaty (director), Carol Blair, Jon Carlson, Bill Marquardt, and Kenneth Olson, later joined by William Black and Ralph Smith. Their move marked the beginning of CSU’s infectious disease research at Foothills Campus.
Quickly recognized as a leader in arthropod- and vector-borne diseases, AIDL has been a part of many university and national organizations for infectious disease research, starting in 1989 with the national Network in Vector Molecular Biology, funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Increased funding supported growing research and training in vector molecular biology at AIDL for a new generation of scientists. During the 1990s, the National Institutes of Health began a shift away from animal modeling to research with live pathogens, requiring access to BSL-3 laboratory facilities. With a grant from the NIH National Center for Research Resources, supplemented by the CSU Vice President for Research, the Bioenvironmental Research Building (BRB) was completed in 1999. This state-of-the-art BRB facility consolidated Biosafety Level 3 research, and served as a catalyst for additional infectious disease programmatic and facility growth at the newly-designated Judson Harper Research Complex within CSU’s Foothills Campus.
A notable grant in 1999 established international collaborations to research dengue’s epidemic potential with institutions in Mexico, the same year AIDL was also selected by NIH to establish a training center for visiting scientists from Mexico to develop skills and technologies to combat arthropod-borne diseases. Colorado State University was also designated an Emerging Virus Disease Unit, in partnership with the University of Texas Medical Branch, to address national and international issues focused on prediction, prevention, and the control of emerging viral diseases. The distinction of University Distinguished Professor was conferred upon AIDL professor Barry Beaty by Colorado State University in 2001 for his outstanding scholarship. In 2002, AIDL was awarded a prestigious CDC Fellowship Training Program in vector-borne infectious diseases to train scientists in arbo-virology, entomology, and microbiology with a public health lens. AIDL faculty grew with the addition of Brian Foy and Brian Geiss in the early 2000s.
In 2004, Colorado State University was selected as the Rocky Mountain Center of Excellence for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Disease (RMRCE) to support multidisciplinary research, as well as emergency response expertise, on emerging infectious diseases and biodefense threats. Representing the region of Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, North and South Dakota, the RMRCE was renewed for Colorado State University in 2009. CSU also joined the international Innovative Vector Control Consortium (IVCC) in 2005, funded by the Gates Foundation, to address new vector control tools, especially for malaria and dengue. Conversations around bats’ role as vectors for emerging infectious diseases among AIDL members during this time, initiated bat research which has grown into a compelling component of AIDL’s vector expertise. The late 2000s also saw research facility expansion at CSU Foothills Campus, and the renovation of the newly-named Infectious Disease Annex for additional AIDL BSL-2 laboratory and office space.
A 2007 initiative to boost Colorado State University’s efforts to address global health challenges, sparked the formation of the Infectious Disease Supercluster, a collaborative of 150 CSU faculty members from seven colleges. The supercluster provided internal support and recognition of CSU’s infectious disease expertise, in large part to the presence of internationally-renowned centers such as AIDL. The Judd Harper Research Complex at Foothills Campus grew with the 2007 opening of the Rocky Mountain Regional Biocontainment Laboratory and additional facilities to increase BSL-3 research, as well as the Research Innovation Center, home of the new Infections Disease Research Center with a mix of BSL-2 laboratories, offices, and business incubation space completed in 2010.
In the early 2010s, AIDL grew with the addition of five faculty members: Gregory Ebel, Rushika Perera, Tony Schountz, Mark Stenglein and Rebekah Kading. Together, the collaborative faculty have continued AIDL’s reputation for infectious disease expertise, research, and training. The enduring importance of vector-borne infectious disease research, and a need for renewed AIDL facilities at CSU’s Foothills Campus, led to the construction of the Center for Vector-borne and Infectious Diseases, opened in October of 2020. Bringing together all of AIDL, the new 40,000 square foot facility contains new offices, laboratory space and insectaries, to sustain their world-class investigation of the many emerging diseases and vectors of the twenty-first century that endanger global human and animal health. The opening also prompted the AIDL faculty to elect a name-change from Arthropod-borne and Infectious Diseases Laboratory to the building’s namesake, the Center for Vector-Borne Infectious Diseases.