I was first exposed to Boston University’s National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories (NEIDL) facility in a one-hour documentary entitled “Threading the NEIDL” , hosted by Columbia University Professor of Microbiology & Immunology, Vincent Racaniello, Ph.D, several years ago (see below).
Now after more than a decade of regulatory hurdles, the final approval was finally achieved–approval from the Boston Public Health Commission, adding the NEIDL to a small group of Biosafety Level 4 labs in the US, joining the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) in Fort Detrick and a handful of others with the capacity to work with some of the most dangerous pathogens.
BSL-4 pathogens are extremely dangerous, exotic agents, which pose a high risk of life-threatening disease, may be aerosol-transmitted lab infections; or related agents with an unknown risk of transmission.
Viruses assigned to Biosafety Level 4 include Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, Ebola, Junin, Lassa fever, Machupo, Marburg, and others.
“We’re extraordinarily pleased,” says NEIDL Director Ronald B. Corley, a School of Medicine professor of microbiology. The BSL-4 lab, on BU’s Medical Campus in the South End, was built according to the most stringent safety specifications set by the US government for infectious disease research.
“As we have seen over the past several years, we are all vulnerable to potentially devastating infectious diseases that may have originated halfway across the globe,” says Gloria Waters, BU vice president and associate provost for research. “With the opening of the NEIDL’s BSL-4 lab, BU is poised to establish itself as a national leader in fighting microbial systems and infectious diseases. The work that will be carried out here will bring benefit and relief in the form of vaccines, treatments, and cures to people in Boston, the United States, and around the world.”