Biosafety Level 4 Laboratory
Ebola. Dengue fever. Lassa fever. SARS. If scientists are going to develop vaccines or therapies to successfully treat these diseases, they need the safest laboratory in the world in which to study them. One of only a handful of such labs can be found at the Texas Biomedical Research Institute.
In 1999, Texas Biomed completed construction on the country's first new biosafety level 4 (BSL-4) laboratory in 20 years. When the lab “went hot” in March 2000, it became the only operational BSL-4 lab owned by a private institution.
Designed for maximum containment, BSL-4 labs offer a safe environment for scientists to study deadly pathogens for which there are no known treatments or vaccines. These labs are often described as “spacesuit labs” because scientists who work in them wear protective suits that serve as an effective barrier between them and the agents they study. Numerous other safety and security measures are engaged to ensure that both the scientists working inside and the environment outside the lab have the utmost protection from the agents under investigation.
This unique resource has allowed scientists in Texas Biomed's Department of Virology and Immunology to become world leaders in the fight against emerging diseases and bioterror agents, expanding their own research programs and increasing collaborations with other institutions as they try to find cures for baffling and deadly infectious diseases.
The Texas Biomedical Research Institute is the only institution in the country to house both a BSL-4 lab and a national primate research center. This combination of expertise and unique resources has given Texas Biomed a key role in a new Research Center of Excellence for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases. Headed by The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, the RCE in Region VI brings together 16 collaborating institutions in five states, all working together to find treatments, cures and improved diagnostics for our country's newest health threats.