NIH grant gives BU Level 4 lab in South End
| 02.03.2006 | 07:51:23 | Views: 3021 | ID:
February 3 '06: Boston University has received a federal grant and approval for a new bioresearch facility in Boston's South End. The $128 million federal grant will help toward the construction of a Level 4 laboratory - diseases to be researched will be some of the most virulent known to man - diseases like Ebola, Marburg, and anthrax viruses, the Boston Globe reported Friday on its website.
"Medical center executives said they expect construction to begin as early as next month," the Globe reported. The new Level 4 lab, the paper continued, "is a cornerstone in the Bush administration's campaign to prepare for potential acts of bioterrorism."Because the lab will be located in Boston, a large metropolitan city, security measures will be high - plans for the building include "labyrinths of hallways" to make "quick escape impossible" for those trying to steal any viruses. Also, armed guards and checkpoints will help increase security measures, the Globe reported. The grant was given to BU from the National Institutes of Health. The project itself was deemed environmentally safe for the area according to the NIH. But there have been calls of concern from environmentalists, scientists and community activists. The coalition of opposition, the Globe wrote, "advance worst-case scenarios in which, through accident or terrorism, an agent such as plague would be unleashed, causing and epidemic of respiratory failure, shock, and sudden death." Federal records "show that in more than three decades, there is no evidence that any viruses or bacteria have escaped from a Level 4 lab," the Boston paper found. "The greatest risk resides with researchers who toil inside the labs; there have been episodes when a wayward needle or a snapping animal potentially exposed scientists, although none of those incidents resulted in illness." Rona Hirschberg, an official with NIH who works to develop high-security labs told the Globe, "This lab will as safe as it is humanly possible to make a facility. ... There are endless layers of redundant systems to assure safety and security."
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