The Galapagos Islands will get their first molecular biology laboratory for rapid onsite diagnosis of diseases to help fight off outbreaks that could endanger the many species unique to the archipelago.

"Disease is a major factor driving many wildlife die-offs," said geneticist Simon Goodman of the Zoological Society of London's Institute of Zoology, who is leading the project with wildlife epidemiologist Andrew Cunningham, also of the institute. "Having this lab will provide the infrastructure for a rapid response should disease outbreaks develop among endemic wildlife and will support research into assessing and monitoring disease threats."

The lab, which will open in October on the island of Santa Cruz and will become fully operational by mid-2004, is a partnership among the Institute of Zoology, the Galapagos National Park, and the University of Guayaquil in Ecuador, in collaboration with the Charles Darwin Research Station in the Galapagos. The British Darwin...

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