Category: Featured

Inside a Biosafety Level 4 Lab

February 24th, 2015 in Featured, In The News

Original article from: Aljazeera America posted on February 23, 2015. By Lindsay Moran

As someone with a background in intelligence, I’m accustomed to helping people understand the gravest national security threats our nation faces. But I’ll admit to being as confused as anyone during the latest outbreak of the Ebola virus, which instantly crippled the American psyche – sowing fear and panic in a matter of hours, just like acts of terrorism possess the capacity to do.

So I was both excited – and admittedly a little apprehensive – when TechKnow asked me to visit Boston University’s National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories (the NEIDL) – where Ebola and other deadly pathogens will soon be quarantined for study and research.  While the NEIDL had yet to “go hot” – that is, become host to these lethal diseases – during the time of our visit, it will be fully operational this year as a Biosafety Level 4 (or BSL-4) lab. BSL-4 labs, of which there are only a handful in the country, are the medical research equivalent of Supermax prisons.

So it was no surprise to find security at the NEIDL tight; I can’t go into details about the layers of security and protocol at the facility, but suffice it to say, the place was more locked down than CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.

Read Full Article on Al Jazeera America

Diagnosing Disease before Symptoms Strike

December 19th, 2014 in Featured, In The News

Original article from: Bostonia posted in Fall 2014 Issue

In October 2014, nurse Kaci Hickox returned to her home in Maine after treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone with the group Doctors Without Borders. State officials ordered her to stay in her house for 21 days—the longest possible incubation period for Ebola—even though she showed no symptoms of the disease. Hickox defied the quarantine, setting off a swirl of controversy among state officials, civil rights advocates, legal experts, health care workers, and scientists. Her 21-day monitoring period ended on November 10, without incident.

The Hickox case highlights a thorny problem with the Ebola virus and similar hemorrhagic fevers—a person can be infected long before they show symptoms, and before doctors can diagnose the disease. This can lead to delays in treatment, controversial quarantines, and unnecessary fear.


Read Full Article in Bostonia

$1 Million Mass. Grant Bolsters Hunt for Ebola Test

December 17th, 2014 in Featured, In The News

Original article from: Boston Globe posted on December 16, 2014. By Michael Levenson

A Cambridge nonprofit, one of several groups worldwide racing to develop a rapid test for the Ebola virus, received a boost Tuesday when state officials gave the organization $1 million to help bring its finger-prick device to market.

Marcus Lovell Smith, president and chief executive of Diagnostics for All, said his group is seeking to develop a hand-held device that can detect the deadly virus in 45 minutes, sparing health workers from waiting days for results from central laboratories in West Africa.

Only 19 laboratories in the region have the capacity to confirm Ebola cases — four in Guinea, seven in Sierra Leone, and eight in Liberia, according to the World Health Organization.

Dr. Richard Sacra, a Holden doctor who contracted the virus while delivering babies in Liberia earlier this year, was among those who announced the grant for Diagnostics for All at a State House news conference.

Sacra, who said he is planning to return to Liberia to continue his medical work next month, said a rapid Ebola test could help control the spread of the virus by allowing workers to identify, isolate, and treat patients quickly. Ebola has caused an estimated 6,400 deaths in West Africa.



Read Full Article in Boston Globe

Rhett Talks w/ Paul Duprex – Bringing Viruses in from the Cold and Heating them Up!

December 12th, 2014 in Events, Featured, In The News, Video

November 20, 2014

Filmed on November 20, 2014. Lecture by Paul Duprex, the Associate Professor of Microbiology, Director of Cell and Tissue Imaging, National Emerging Infectious Diseases Institute (NEIDL), Boston University School of Medicine.

I am fascinated by viruses! As nature’s nanomachines, they are incredibly diverse and come in more “flavors” than all the plants, animals, fungi, bacteria, and other unicellular organisms on earth put together. Why? Because as the nursery rhyme says, “Big fleas have little fleas, upon their backs to bite ’em, and little fleas have lesser fleas, and so, ad infinitum.” I will discuss why and how pathogen taming scientists bring these invisible, transmissible harbingers of disease in from the wild rather than leave them to their own devices.

A Boston Doctor vs. Ebola (Q&A with Dr. Nahid Bhadelia)

November 25th, 2014 in Featured, In The News

Original article from: Boston Magazine posted in December 2014 Issue. By Melissa Malamut

What Nahid Bhadelia remembers most from her trip to treat Ebola patients in Sierra Leone—12 days of working with desperately ill people in a country where the disease has killed thousands—is not being able to touch her patients.

“There were so many children who lost all their family, and they were in those units alone, some of them under five years of age,” she recalled. “You want to reach down and really comfort them, but all they can see is your eyes. You’re completely covered. You want to pet them, you want to caress them, but you have double gloves on.”

An epidemiologist at Boston Medical Center, the Brookline-raised Bhadelia, 37, has spent the past few years designing emergency protocols for Boston University’s controversial planned Level 4 lab. The National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories would allow BU to study deadly viruses like Ebola in a controlled environment—a very different situation than the one Bhadelia faced in Sierra Leone, dealing with a fast-moving pandemic.

“It was physically grueling. [We] were throwing back Gatorade, Tang, and water,” says Bhadelia, who lost six pounds during those 12 days. “It’s so tough physically, but also emotionally. As physicians on this side of the ocean, we are not used to losing so many of our patients.”

We spoke to Bhadelia on the eve of her return to Sierra Leone. She has a third trip scheduled for January.


Read Full Article in Boston Magazine

Going Public with Ebola; NEIDL Director says Scientists Need to Engage with the Public about the Disease

November 20th, 2014 in Events, Featured, In The News

Original article from: BU Today posted on November 20, 2014. By Sara Rimer

Speaking at a public forum on Ebola at Boston University’s National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories (NEIDL) on November 7, 2014, NEIDL director Ronald B. Corley stressed the importance of scientists engaging with the public about the realities of the disease. The NEIDL, he said, has mounted an education outreach campaign to do just that.

“It’s not just about Ebola,” Corley told the audience of several dozen people from the business and health care community. “It’s about infectious diseases in general. It’s about research. We have to show we’re not just nerds working in a facility. We want to exchange information—not just with our nerd colleagues, but with the public in general. It’s not something we’ve done well over the last 10 to 20 years and it’s up to us to change, I think.”

The forum was convened by The New England Council, a business organization that has been a strong supporter of research at the NEIDL. Corley was joined by Nahid Bhadelia, a physician who is director of infection control for the NEIDL and who traveled to Sierra Leone in August to help care for Ebola patients; Paul Biddinger, chief of the division of emergency preparedness and medical director for emergency department operations at Massachusetts General Hospital; and Jamie Childs, a Yale School of Public Health senior research scientist and lecturer in epidemiology.


Read Full Article on BU Today

Dr. Paul Duprex Presents at The National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity

November 18th, 2014 in Events, Featured

Original Video from: National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB)

October 22, 2014

The National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) is a federal advisory committee that addresses issues related to biosecurity and dual use research of concern (DURC) at the request of the United States Government. The NSABB has up to 25 voting members with a broad range of expertise including molecular biology, microbiology, infectious diseases, biosafety, public health, veterinary medicine, plant health, national security, biodefense, law enforcement, scientific publishing, and other related fields. The NSABB also includes non-voting ex officio members from 15 federal agencies and departments.
Paul Duprex, PhD, Associate Professor of Microbiology and Director of Cell and Tissue Imaging at the National Emerging Infectious Diseases Institute (NEIDL), presented a talk entitled ,“Gain-of-function” studies … their history, their utility and what they can tell us” at the request of NSABB on Wednesday October 22, 2014 in Washington D.C.  In his presentation he argues that cross-species infection studies have already helped to improve surveillance in the field, have shed new light on basic influenza virus biology and could assist in growing vaccine viruses better.

As a founding member of Scientists for Science a group who “are confident that biomedical research on potentially dangerous pathogens can be performed safely and is essential for a comprehensive understanding of microbial disease pathogenesis, prevention and treatment” and as NEIDL investigator, he emphasized that virologists are responsible scientists who appreciate good communication and transparency is critical.

Dr. Duprex’s presentation begins at 68:00

Expert Panel Discussion: The Truth about Ebola (Video)

November 14th, 2014 in Events, Featured, Video

November 7, 2014

Expert panelists Dr. Ronald B. Corley, Director of Boston University’s National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories (NEIDL), Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, Director of Infection Control at the NEIDL, Dr. Paul Biddinger, Director of Operations for Emergency Medicine and Medical Director for Emergency Preparedness at Massachusetts General Hospital, and Dr. Jamie Childs, Senior Research Scientist & Lecturer in Epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health, discuss the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa, regional preparedness, and answer audience questions. This New England Council event, held on Friday, November 7, 2014, was hosted at Boston University National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories (NEIDL) located on the BU Medical Campus.

Boston Doctor Returns to Sierra Leone to Fight Ebola (Video)

November 13th, 2014 in Events, Featured, In The News, Video

Original article from: NBC Nightly News posted on November 12, 2014

Boston-based physician Dr. Nahid Bhadelia travels to Sierra Leone for the second time in four months to combat the deadly Ebola outbreak.


See Full Video on NBC News

Ebola and Enterovirus, Both Spreading too Close to Home (Video)

November 6th, 2014 in Featured, In The News, Video

Original article from: Fox 25 News posted on November 5, 2014

Two viruses: one from the jungles of Africa that has infected more than 10,000 people, half of them dead and another from right here in the US infecting more than 800 and linked to the deaths of four children this past fall. So where do these viruses come from and how are they spreading so close to home?

Dr. Mitchell Levy, Ashoka Mukpo’s father, said, “The word Ebola frightens all of us so when you hear your son say ‘Dad, I think I’m in trouble,’ and you realize he’s talking about Ebola, you can’t express what that makes you feel. Your heart sinks.”

Levy is a Brown University doctor who specializes in intensive and critical care. His son contracted Ebola while working as a cameraman in Liberia. His parents told our Heather Hegedus that they have not forgotten about the fear they felt when they heard the news.

“We had some very dark moments,” Mukpo’s mother Diana said.

And for good reason, this is the world’s worst-ever recorded outbreak of Ebola. The first case was recorded in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1976. Then in the late 90′s, a single episode was recorded in West Africa.

So why the epidemic now?

Dr. Ron Corley and Dr. Elke Muhlberger, Microbiology professors at Boston University’s National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories Institue, believe it may have been a certain type of bat.


Watch Full Video on Fox 25 News