$170M Maryland Public Health Lab unveiled

The state of Maryland now has a new public health lab designed to help officials respond to emerging health threats.

The $170 million, 234,000 square foot department of health and mental hygiene replaces a 40-year-old facility State Center in Baltimore. The former facility is described by public officials as outdated.

"The Public Health Lab is the backbone of Maryland's healthcare system and serves as an early warning system to protect the health and well-being of Maryland families," Gov. Martin O’Malley said in a release. "We're harnessing the power of technology to strengthen our ability to respond more effectively and efficiently to contain a wide range of public health emergencies from disease outbreaks to natural disasters and bioterrorism.”

The lab is located in the Baltimore Science and Technology Park at Johns Hopkins. It has six levels and five scientific lab divisions.

According to the release, the public health lab “protects public health through surveillance and tracking of diseases, toxic contamination of food and water, as well as environmental hazards in water, soil and air. More than 10 million tests are conducted annually.”

The project was financed through MEDCO, a company created by the general assembly to help state and local jurisdictions support economic development projects, the release states. The state made a $6.4 million investment to launch the project in 2010.

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