An Integrated Research Facility
|Biosafety Level||Agents||Practices||Safety Equipment||Facilities|
|BSL-1||These agents are not generally associated with disease in healthy people||
|BSL-2||These agents are associated with human disease||
|| BSL-2 practice plus
|| BSL-3 practices plus
Most facilities in the U.S. with infectious disease research programs have BSL-3 laboratories. In addition, many hospitals have areas that can be operated at this level; these areas are used for isolating patients with highly contagious diseases.
BSL-4 labs have the most stringent safety and security requirements. There are currently only four operational BSL-4 laboratory suites in the United States: at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta; at the United States Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick in Frederick, MD; at the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research in San Antonio; and at the University of Texas at Galveston. A small BSL-4 facility exists on the NIH campus in Bethesda, MD, but it is currently being operated only at a BSL-3 level for research on important emerging infectious diseases.
Having this facility on Fort Detrick enhances NIAID efforts to expand its biodefense research agenda by capitalizing on the already well-established cooperation between NIAID and USAMRIID scientists. The proximity at Fort Detrick to researchers with expertise in infectious diseases related to biodefense and other emerging infections, as well as the nearby USAMRIID facilities, will provide a critical part of the foundation for the research and development program that is NIAID's mandate. In addition, the location at Fort Detrick will minimize replication of costly support services. The location for the proposed Integrated Research Facility at Fort Detrick was approved specifically for these reasons.
The facility will be constructed within a secured perimeter, with the required setback distance from any unscreened vehicles. In addition, there will be extra security for the areas of BSL-3 and BSL-4 research within the facility. New lighting, observation cameras, and card-reader systems will be installed, and additional measures will be implemented in the BSL-3 and BSL-4 laboratories. Multiple levels of security devices will be installed throughout the new facility.
There are specific Government regulations for transportation of infectious materials. Infectious materials are safely transported worldwide on a daily basis under these regulations.
NIH's Division of Safety will be closely involved in the planning, design, and operation of the new facility. In addition, the Division reviews and approves all proposed protocols and standard operating procedures for any BSL-3 or BSL-4 laboratory operated by NIAID prior to its use. A stringent approval process will take place before any experiment can begin in the facility.
No. A number of BSL-3 and BSL-4 facilities have operated safely in the United States for 30 years. Rare accidents such as needlesticks may cause exposure of laboratory staff; immediate treatment of any person so exposed avoids any danger to other workers or to the community.
A properly constructed and properly operated BSL-3 and BSL-4 facility poses no threat to the local community. There are no recorded incidents involving community contamination from any of the existing BSL-3 and BSL-4 facilities.
Even before the current emphasis on biodefense, NIAID scientists had been studying organisms that cause a variety of infectious diseases. Potentially, some of these microbes also could be used as agents of bioterrorism. Examples of diseases caused by these agents include plague, Lyme disease, rabies, tick-borne encephalitis, West Nile virus disease, influenza, anthrax infection, Ebola virus hemorrhagic fever, HIV, tuberculosis, transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, and Q fever. All of this work has been carried out in either the Maryland or Montana laboratories with required safety measures in place.
The ultimate goal of this research program is to provide information that will guide the development of diagnostics, treatments, and vaccines to protect civilians against agents of bioterrorism. Although safety and security regulations will limit access to certain kinds of information, it is anticipated that the results of all research carried out in the facility will be published and communicated in the same manner as other NIH research results.
Preliminary planning for the facility has been completed; the project is now in design development. An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is being prepared to address possible environmental impacts of the project. The design should be finished within one year.
No construction can begin until the EIS process is completed. Groundbreaking is estimated to occur in mid to late 2004. Construction may take up to two years.
The budget includes $105 million for planning, design, construction, and related costs for the Integrated Research Facility.
Until the design process is complete, it is not known exactly how many persons will work in the facility. It is estimated that approximately 100 people will staff the facility.
NIAID is a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services. NIAID supports basic and applied research to prevent, diagnose, and treat infectious and immune-mediated illnesses, including HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, illness from potential agents of bioterrorism, tuberculosis, malaria, autoimmune disorders, asthma and allergies.
News releases, fact sheets and other NIAID-related materials are available on the NIAID Web site at http://www.niaid.nih.gov.
Office of Communications and Public Liaison
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, MD 20892
and Human Services
of Health (NIH)
Bethesda, Maryland 20892