Critical Bioeconomy Asset in Need of Attention: BSL-3 and BSL-4 Laboratories in the U.S.

Credit: Jim Gathany

An essential element in the critical national infrastructure required to safely and securely address the threat of emerging infectious diseases is the existing national network of academic biocontainment laboratories developed by NIH in cooperation with states and constructed over a decade ago.

The value of these labs to medical research is visible in its contributions to development of vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics now in use for Ebola, glanders, tuberculosis, anthrax, plague, influenza, West Nile, eastern equine encephalitis, and infections due to antimicrobial resistant microbes.

There is concern about the sustainability of the network as facilities age requiring a new approach to federal biocontainment facility operations and maintenance funding. The business model originally envisioned to sustain the network with extramurally funded research and development projects has simply failed to meet the extraordinary operations costs of these unique facilities.

James W. Le Duc. Biocontainment Laboratories: A Critical Component of the US Bioeconomy in Need of Attention Health Security. Feb 2020.61-66.

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