Feds clear BU Biolab to study Ebola Virus, Yellow Fever

in In The News
January 4th, 2013

Boston Business Journal

January 3, 2013

by Julie M. Donnelly

The long held-up National Emerging Infectious Disease Laboratory (NEIDL), commonly referred to as the BU Biolab, has been cleared by federal health officials to study dangerous agents such as West Nile virus, Yellow Fever, SARS, small pox and ebola virus.

The National Institutes of Health has decided to reaffirm its 2006 decision that the lab poses very little risk to the public, according to a notice in the January 2nd Federal Register.

The federal clearance moves the lab one step closer to embarking on such research. But the lab still faces a state review and two lawsuits seeking to block high-level infectious disease studies.

The lab has already been cleared to research less hazardous agents but has been mired in legal and regulatory wrangling over whether highly infectious agents, including those with no treatments, should be studied at the lab, owned by Boston University.

Federal officials determined that “the risk of infections resulting from accidents or malevolent acts at the NEIDL are generally very low to only remotely possible.”

The NIH said the lab would be inspected periodically by a number of entities, including B.U., the Boston Public Health Commision, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

Safeguards built into the lab, which were demonstrated to the public during a tour in January 2012, as well as the small amounts of pathogens used in the studies, contributed to NIH’s conclusion that “high and maximum containment research could be conducted safely at the NEIDL.”