Rhode Island Receives $82 Million CDC Grant for the Development of Rhode Island Center of Excellence for Laboratory Sciences

Published on Tuesday, November 16, 2021

PROVIDENCE, RI – The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has awarded an $82 million grant to the McKee Administration for the construction of a Rhode Island Center of Excellence for Laboratory Sciences.

“This is an exciting day for the State of Rhode Island,” said Governor Dan McKee. “Rhode Island is among the leaders nationally in testing, vaccination rates, and a safe economic reopening and building a new State Lab facility simultaneously advances our important public health goals while also catalyzing significant economic development opportunities. I want to thank the Biden Administration and the leadership of the CDC for this transformative grant and to our team at the Department of Health and Commerce for their leadership on this project. New state-of-the-art State Health Laboratories will be able to best serve the people of Rhode Island and accelerate Rhode Island’s innovative health initiatives.”

“RIDOH operates premier State Health Laboratories that impact every person in Rhode Island. RIDOH’s State Health Laboratories are central to our responses to the overdose crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic, and they help ensure the health and safety of the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink, and so much more,” said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. “This funding announcement is great news for Rhode Island. We are very grateful to the CDC and Rhode Island’s congressional delegation for their support.”

Earlier this month, the McKee Administration through the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation issued a request for proposals (RFP) seeking qualified entities to provide a site and develop a new facility for this Rhode Island Center of Excellence for Laboratory Sciences. The facility would house RIDOH’s State Health Laboratories (currently located on Orms Street, in Providence) and additional private laboratory space. On Monday, RIDOH and Commerce RI held an open informational session with potential developers about the project.

In 2020, Rhode Island jobs in the biosciences grew by 6%, surpassing the growth in areas such as Boston-Cambridge-Newton (4%), Durham-Chapel Hill (5.8%), and San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley (4.8%).

The RFP issued by Rhode Island Commerce provides an opportunity for parties to propose a suitable site that they own or control or for parties to propose a site within the I-195 Redevelopment District or another such publicly owned site. RIDOH’s State Health Laboratories will require approximately 80,000 square feet of space. Respondents must include a minimum of 25,000 square feet of additional laboratory space for private bioscience tenants. Applicant teams must have experience developing similar laboratory buildings. The RFP process will consist of two rounds. Those who are selected as finalists will be eligible to participate in the second round, which will involve a competitive negotiation process.

Aging infrastructure, substandard life-safety systems, poor ventilation, and a building design unfit for a modern laboratory are significant challenges with the current State Health Laboratories in Providence.

In addition to addressing these concerns, a new Rhode Island Center of Excellence for Laboratory Sciences would make Rhode Island better prepared for any future epidemic or pandemic with improved public health services, fiscal efficiency and economic impact, and a reduced liability. A new facility for RIDOH’s State Health Laboratories will also facilitate more collaboration with private industry and academic institutions with improved utilization of the State Health Laboratories’ specialized capabilities and facilities.

Interested parties may secure a copy of this RFP at www.commerceri.com or www.ridop.ri.gov or from the Corporation at 315 Iron Horse Way, Suite 101, Providence, RI 02908. Responses to the first round of this RFP are due no later than December 10, 2021, at 2 p.m.

This funding opportunity is through the Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity for Infectious Diseases (ELC) grant from the CDC. The funding period runs through July 2024.