Category: Featured

Emergency Response Exercise to be Conducted November 10, 2016

November 8th, 2016 in Events, Featured, Lab Updates, Press Releases


Contact: Colin Riley (617) 353-5386,

 (Boston) – On Thursday, November 10, between 9 a.m.- noon Boston University (BU) will conduct an emergency response exercise at the National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories (NEIDL) located at 620 Albany Street. This simulation is part of the NEIDL’s ongoing safety and training program for laboratory personnel and internal and external response officials.

This drill will simulate a response to an inventory discrepancy involving a select agent pathogen. The participants in this exercise include NEIDL operations staff and researchers, BU Public Safety, Boston Police Department, and the Boston Public Health Commission.

While the simulation should have no affect or impact on neighborhood traffic, there may be a number of local emergency response vehicles parked at or around the NEIDL’s perimeter.

Following this exercise, all participants will convene to review and critique the response in order to continuously improve response and training.

Please note that BSL-4 research is not being conducted at the NEIDL now and will not commence until the completion of further regulatory approvals.


The 9 Deadliest Viruses on Earth

November 4th, 2016 in Featured, In The News

Original article from: Live Science posted on October 27, 2016. by Anne Harding

Humans have been battling viruses since before our species had even evolved into its modern form. For some viral diseases, vaccines and antiviral drugs have allowed us to keep infections from spreading widely, and have helped sick people recover. For one disease — smallpox — we’ve been able to eradicate it, ridding the world of new cases.

But as the Ebola outbreak now devastating West Africa demonstrates, we’re a long way from winning the fight against viruses.

The strain that is driving the current epidemic, Ebola Zaire, kills up to 90 percent of the people it infects, making it the most lethal member of the Ebola family. “It couldn’t be worse,” said Elke Muhlberger, an Ebola virus expert and associate professor of microbiology at Boston University.

But there are other viruses out there that are equally deadly, and some that are even deadlier. Here are the nine worst killers, based on the likelihood that a person will die if they are infected with one of them, the sheer numbers of people they have killed, and whether they represent a growing threat.

Read Full Article in Live Science

A New Lead on Treatment for Ebola

October 11th, 2016 in Featured, In The News, Lab Updates

Original article from: BU Research posted on September 30, 2016. by Elizabeth Dougherty

In the book The Hot Zone, author Richard Preston called viruses like Ebola “molecular sharks”—mindless attackers made of almost nothing. Ebola virus, which causes often-fatal hemorrhagic fevers, carries just seven genes, none of which can do much without first stealing the smarts inside a host cell.

Virologists in the lab of John Connor have recently discovered one previously unknown way that Ebola hijacks a cell’s machinery and uses it to replicate and spread. When the virus invades, it takes over a pathway that normally helps the host cell turn its own genes into proteins. The virus uses this pathway—in particular, an activated form of a protein called eIF5A—to turn its own viral genes into proteins. When those viral proteins accumulate, the virus is able to unleash the rest of its deadly viral proteins.

By figuring out how the virus hijacks a host cell, Connor and his team have found a new lead for the treatment of Ebola infections, though more research is required to pinpoint a treatment strategy. “My lab tries to shine light on underlying mechanisms,” says Connor, associate professor of microbiology at Boston University’s National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories (NEIDL). “Once you understand the different parts of a cell the virus is using, you can come up with ways to stop it.”

The findings were published in the American Society for Microbiology’s mBio journal in July 2016. Funders of the research include the National Institutes of Health and the US Department of Health and Human Services.


Read Full Article on BU Research

“Every Emerging Disease begins as a Mystery Story.” – David Quammen

September 26th, 2016 in Events, Featured, In The News, Video

Original video from: Microbiology Society aired on September 22, 2016

“This week, we went to the ‘Emerging Disease A2Z’ meeting in Boston to speak to some of the delegates about their work.

Science writer David Quammen, author of ‘Spillover’ and ‘Ebola’, told us the challenges of writing about emerging diseases.”


This Week in Virology #408 – Boston Quammens (video)

September 26th, 2016 in Events, Featured, In The News, Video

Original video from: American Society for Microbiology aired on September 24, 2016

Four years after filming ‘Threading the NEIDL’, Vincent Racaniello and Alan Dove return to the National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratory BSL4 facility at Boston University where they speak with science writer David Quammen.


Watch more TWIVs here

NEIDL Symposium: Talking about Infectious Diseases

September 21st, 2016 in Events, Featured, In The News

Original article from: BU Today posted on September 21, 2016. by Sara Rimer

Anthony Fauci flashed on the screen a slide of a huge map of the world crisscrossed with blue and red lines showing dozens of emerging and reemerging infectious diseases. Ebola. Yellow fever. MERS. West Nile virus. Dengue. Zika. This was the map the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases had shown to the appropriations committee of the US House of Representatives last March, he said, addressing the opening of BU’s National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories (NEIDL) inaugural symposium, held at the George Sherman Union last Sunday.

“I made this slide completely impossible to read, because I want to overwhelm them so they will give me more money,” Fauci said. “For the last few years they haven’t, but that’s another story.”

Later, during a panel discussion with experts and journalists, Fauci pointed out that in February, President Obama asked Congress for $1.9 billion to combat the spread of the Zika virus. “It is now September 18 and we still don’t have it,” he said. “It is completely unconscionable. We could turn that around by having an emergency fund.” He was referring to a global health security fund that has been proposed by health experts and would not be subject to the whims of Congress.

The symposium, which ran through Tuesday, brought together some 160 virologists and other scientists from all over the world who study the diseases on Fauci’s map—and work on vaccines, treatments, and public health responses—to discuss their research and the particular challenges of working with dangerous pathogens. On Sunday, the scientists joined a large crowd of BU faculty and students, funders, journalists, and other members of the public at the GSU.

Read Full Article in BU Today

Author David Quammen at NEIDL Symposium

September 15th, 2016 in Events, Featured, In The News

Original article from: BU Research posted on September 14, 2016. by Sara Rimer

On assignment for National Geographic 16 years ago, science writer David Quammen spent eight weeks following a field biologist and conservationist named Mike Fay as he made an epic trek across the Congo, bushwhacking his way through swamps and forests. Fay was gathering data documenting the richness of the ecosystems he was passing through. A team of Bantu and Pygmy men carried tents and food. They were all sitting around the campfire one night, Quammen writes, when “there comes a weird, violent, whooshing noise that rises mystifyingly toward crescendo, and then crests—as, whoa, an elephant charges through camp, like a freight train with tusks…Anybody hurt? No. Dinner is served and the pachyderm in the kitchen is forgotten.” Fay walked for 456 days and 2,000 miles, in shorts and Teva sandals. Quammen, who adopted Fay’s uniform on the trail, made periodic trips in and out of the Republic of the Congo and Gabon to join him, getting to field sites by dugout canoe, bush plane, and helicopter.

The journey illustrates one of Quammen’s principles of science journalism: go there. A contributing writer for National Geographic and an author, whose books include The Song of the Dodo (1996); The Reluctant Mr. Darwin (2006); Spillover (2012), about the science, history, and human impact of emerging diseases; Ebola (2014); and his latest book, Yellowstone: A Journey through America’s Wild Heart (August 2016), Quammen has been going there for over three decades. In his quest to explore the natural world and how humans are connected to that world, Quammen has gone to the Russian Arctic with a boatload of Russian and American biologists, to the jungles of Indonesia with park rangers who track Komodo dragons, to biosafety level 4 labs where virologists study Ebola and other dangerous pathogens.


Read Full Article & Interview on BU Research

Rage Against The Busted Medical Machines

September 9th, 2016 in Featured, In The News

Original article from: NPR Goats & Soda posted on September 8, 2016. by Nahid Bhadelia

“Oh, we have a hematology analyzer but it stopped working,” the lab technician said as he pointed to a covered tabletop medical equipment in the corner used to measure blood count levels — an important but simple tool for a community where anemia and infections are prevalent.

The busted hematology analyzer, which I encountered during a visit to a hospital in the rural Kono district in Sierra Leone, has plenty of company in the hall of nonfunctional medical equipment. The landscape of the West African countries I’ve worked in — not only Sierra Leone but also Liberia and Nigeria — is strewn with broken machines. Sometimes they bear the name of the nonprofit group or aid agency that made the donation. I’ve seen the same problem during two stints in a rural Nicaraguan hospital in 2005 and 2008.

Indeed, the scope of the problem is immense. To start with, WHO estimates that 80 percent of the medical equipment in developing countries is donated. A 2011 study looked at inventory lists from 16 low-income countries and showed the number of nonfunctional medical equipment in that pool is at about 40 percent. (Take this with the caveat that most places I have worked do not have up-to-date inventories).


Read Full Article in NPR Goats & Soda

City Council Meeting Discusses Proposed Level 4 Research Moratorium

August 26th, 2016 in Featured, In The News

Original article from: South End News posted on August 25, 2016. by Michele D. Maniscalco

With about 25 spectators in the gallery, City Council president Ayanna Pressley, District 7 city councilor Tito Jackson and councilor at large Annissa Essaibi-George held a meeting on August 11 to hear panels from Roxbury Safety Net and its allies, Boston University’s (BU) research and NEIDL (National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratory) leadership and the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) as well as members of the public on the proposed moratorium on all level 4 potential pandemic research, pending a national review.

While Councilor Essaibi-George had to leave early due to schedule conflicts, she pledged to listen to the proceedings in their entirety via the City Council’s on-line video library, with special attention to testimony from the public. Pressley and Jackson had pointed questions for proponents of approving level 4 research at the NEIDL, or Biolab as it is also known, about the economic impact of level 4 research for BU and for the city; on community engagement in the Institutional Biosafety Committee, the Community Liaison Committee and the Boston Biosafety Committee and on BU’s self-oversight of labs handling dangerous pathogens.


Read Full Article in South End News

Healthcare Workers and Ebola (Video)

August 8th, 2016 in Featured, In The News, Video

Original video from:

Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, Director of Infection Control, talks with PBS about her experiences as a Healthcare worker in Sierra Leone battling Ebola.


Watch other Spillover related videos on PBS