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Operating a BSL-4 Laboratory in a University Setting

right in the middle of downtown on a rooftop so there are many issues to address.”

behaves in cells in order to understand the pathogen and how to control it.”

Cabinet labs should be designed so they are er- gonomically comfortable for researchers of varying physical stature. The cabinet labs at the Center were designed largely with the input of the former associ- ate director, who is more than 6-feet tall, creating a challenge for other lab staff to do their work. Smaller gloves, extenders, and a few other modifica- tions enable the other investigators to work relatively comfortably.

It is also crucial to properly position the labora- tories in a manner that is most conducive to the type of work being done. For example, a West Nile BSL-3 is located adjacent to the robotics facilities that ser- vice the sera and viral culture laboratories.

The BSL-2 labs have standard virology for lower containment agents like HSV-1 and HSV-2. The sum total of the work performed in these labs is to take core resources of the BSL-3 and -4 labs, com- bine them with the research missions, maintain a high-containment robotics lab for high-throughput virus identification, as well as serologic screening, perform microarray analysis, and be flexible enough to look at new agents as they come to the scientists’ attention.

“All of our work would be for naught if we didn’t have the supportive BSL-2 labs,” says Hilliard.


Julia Hilliard is director of the Viral Immunol- ogy Center at Georgia State University in the De- partment of Biology. She is also the Georgia Re- search Alliance Eminent Scholar in Molecular Bio- technology and Director of the National B Virus Resource Center for global diagnostic resources. She has worked with the BSL-4, newly classified Select Agent, B Virus (Cercopithecine herpesvirus 1) for 23 years, providing diagnostic resources to the biomedi- cal community for the last 16 years.

This report is based on a presentation given by Julia Hilliard at Tradeline’s International Conference on Biocontainment Facilities in May 2003.

For more information, please contact: Julia Hil- liard, Director, Viral Immunology Center, Georgia State University, Box 4118, Atlanta, GA 30302- 4118, 404-651-0811, jhilliard@gsu.edu.

Reprinted with Permission © December 2003 from TradelineInc.com, a registered product of Tradeline Inc., a provider of leading-edge resources to facilities planning and management through conferences, publications, and the Internet community. Visit www.TradelineInc.com for more information.

The robotics unit can perform multiple tests and process thousands of sera daily. The viral culture robot can plate samples and screen them at multiple times during the day for the presence of a virus. This allows mass processing of thousands of diagnostic samples. If a disturbance in cell culture is noted, a pager is sounded and an investigator is called to the room for further analyses and to notify the institu- tion submitting the sample for analysis.

“In the BSL-4 laboratory, the goal of our work is the production of large amounts of virus and con- taining the supply very securely,” says Hilliard. “We can then look at drug sensitivities and how the virus


Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories: www.cdc.gov/od/ohs/biosfty/bmbl4/bmbl4toc.htm Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments: www.cms.hhs.gov/clia/ Select Agents: www.cdc.gov/od/sap/docs/salist.pdf Viral Immunology Center: www.gsu.edu/~wwwvir/index.html


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