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POSTPONED | NO NEW DATE – BSL-4 Training: Achieving Data Quality and Integrity in Maximum Containment Laboratories

April 20, 2020 - April 24, 2020


The FDA and the University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston National Laboratory (UTMB) will host this year’s annual training course on how to meet GLP requirements in BSL-4 facilities from April 20-24, 2020 at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland.

Scientists working to develop Medical Countermeasures (MCMs) against several high-priority biological threat agents are at high risk of aerosol-transmitted laboratory infection and life-threatening disease, as there are no vaccines or treatments for these agents. Accordingly, much of the work to develop MCMs for these high-priority agents must be done in high and maximum biosafety level (BSL)-4 laboratories to prevent the agents from being released into the environment, and to provide maximum safety for the scientists.

The unique challenges of BSL-4

While necessary to ensure lab worker safety and prevent accidental release of dangerous pathogens, BSL-4 environments pose unique challenges to developing MCMs. For example, data generated to support a regulatory submission to FDA must be collected in accordance with quality systems, like good laboratory practice (GLP) regulations, to be useful and reliable, and to facilitate FDA review to ensure safety and efficacy.

However, meeting data quality and integrity standards like GLP in a BSL-4 environment is challenging. Current practice is often inconsistent among laboratories due to technological infrastructure, available internal standard operating procedures, level of regulatory awareness, and individual breadth of experience and training. And completing even routine lab tasks in a protective BSL-4 suit can be difficult—imagine, for example, trying to pick up a small item, like a toothpick, while wearing two pairs of thick gloves.

To help address the challenges associated with ensuring data quality and integrity in regulated studies conducted in BSL-4 laboratories to support MCM development, FDA and the University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston National Laboratory (UTMB) collaborate to provide an annual training course on how to meet GLP requirements in BSL-4 facilities (“data quality course”).

This popular course offers a unique opportunity for the regulatory and scientific communities to discuss complex issues in an interactive environment and identify and share best practices for ensuring data quality and integrity in BSL-4 facilities.

In addition to UTMB and FDA, other federal partners from the National Interagency Confederation for Biological Research (NICBR) provide support and resources for this course. These partners include:

  • From the National Institutes of Health
    • Office of the Director
    • National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
    • National Cancer Institute (NCI)
  • From the Department of Defense
    • U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (USAMRMC)
  • From the Department of Homeland Security
    • National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center (NBACC)

History and new additions

Since the data quality course began in 2013, it has quickly reached capacity each year. In its first five years, 269 participants completed the course.

In September 2017, the FDA Medical Countermeasures Initiative (MCMi) renewed the grant  to continue the data quality course for an additional five years, from 2018-2022. UTMB and FDA will also expand on-demand online offerings, adding data quality-related good clinical practices (GCP) training and other courses to meet the needs of researchers responding to emerging infectious disease outbreaks.

Course description

The week-long, data quality course is designed to help researchers who conduct studies intended to support approval under the Animal Rule, which may be used to grant marketing approval of certain products when human challenge studies would not be ethical or feasible.

The course includes expert lectures and hands-on laboratory activities conducted in BSL-2 and BSL-4 training laboratories to emphasize the differences between biosafety levels, and the complexity of conducting laboratory activities in a BSL-4 environment. An online training module on GLP regulations (21 CFR Part 58) is included as a course pre-requisite. For additional information, visit the official UTMB course website

Topics covered include:

  • Animal Rule regulations, and clinical applications of Animal Rule studies
  • Assay validation
  • BSL-2/3/4 comparison, with hands-on simulations
  • BSL-4 equipment, with hands-on work in a BSL-4 training lab
  • Disease agent characterization
  • GLP regulations
  • Good documentation practices
  • Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) protocols
  • Telemetry
  • Supportive care
  • Surrogate endpoints
  • Testing facility management
  • Veterinary pathology
  • Integration of quality assurance (QA) in BSL-4 studies
  • Advancement of MCMs on the international stage

Who may attend?

FDA welcomes participants from government, industry, and academia. We welcome international participation as well; attendees in previous years have included representatives from international public health agencies. Attendees typically include:

  • Policy-makers
  • MCM product sponsors (industry)
  • Quality assurance personnel
  • Regulators
  • Reviewers
  • Scientists
  • Veterinarians

Pre-requisites include GLP and IACUC training that are available to course attendees.

Course Cost and Availability

There are no registration fees for this FDA-sponsored course, however, seats are limited, and course attendees are invited based upon diversity of roles, responsibilities, and organization. Interested participants will be placed on a waitlist once seats are filled.



April 20, 2020
April 24, 2020
Event Category:


National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Bethesda, MD United States