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CDC Would Spend Stimulus Dough on Bricks, Mortar

Facilities are a big focus of the House stimulus bill, the thinking being that scientific construction provides jobs now and offers intellectual investment for the future. Thus more spacious lab facilities may be on the way at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention if the bill passes. Congress is proposing a $462 million boost for the agency, which currently has an $8.8 billion budget. The money would go to several new buildings planned long before the bill was written, as well as facilities currently under construction.

An epidemiology research facility at the Atlanta headquarters, slated to be a sprawling 323,000 square feet, would get $71 million, while two CDC buildings in Chamblee, Georgia, would get $127 million each. One will be a research facility for birth defects, genomics, and other developmental disabilities, and the second will support chronic disease prevention, says Thomas Skinner, a CDC spokesperson. The rest of the money would be spent to replace facilities at the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and to finish construction of an infectious disease lab in Fort Collins, Colorado.

If the construction projects come to fruition, the buildings will be filled with existing CDC staff, many of whom are now working in labs built 40 or 50 years ago.  The money "will definitely allow us to complete our master plan" of revamping CDC's facilities, says Skinner.