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State Approves NEIDL Biosafety Level 3, 4 Research

Next: BU to seek Boston Public Health Commission permission


In an action that moves BU’s National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories (NEIDL) closer to full operation, the Massachusetts Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs has given approval for the lab to conduct research at Biosafety Level 3 (BSL-3) and Biosafety Level 4 (BSL-4). The state agency issued a Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) certificate on Friday, clearing the way for the issuance of final state permits for the project.

The Secretary’s report states that the Supplemental Final Environmental Impact Report submitted by Boston University “adequately and properly complies with the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act and with its implementing regulations.”

John Murphy, interim director of NEIDL and a School of Medicine professor of medicine and microbiology, says he is pleased that the MEPA process has had a positive finding. “Our research will make important contributions toward improving public health and will have local, national, and global impact,” he says.

Boston University will now request permission from the Boston Public Health Commission to transfer ongoing BSL-3 research from an existing BSL-3 lab on the Medical Campus to the NEIDL. This research involves tuberculosis-related bacteria and finding new ways to treat the disease, including improved vaccines.

BSL-4 research will not begin until some additional regulatory and judicial determinations are made.

Construction on the $200 million facility was completed in September 2008, but controversy and litigation have kept much of the building’s 192,000 square feet of laboratory space closed.

Art Jahnke

Art Jahnke can be reached at jahnke@bu.edu.

4 Comments on State Approves NEIDL Biosafety Level 3, 4 Research

  • Anon on 03.04.2013 at 5:12 pm

    If BU really thought this lab were completely safe, they would build it on their own campus instead of putting it in Roxbury, one of the poorest neighborhoods in Boston, and a neighborhood which is largely very angry that it is being built there, given all the environmental hazards the area has already been subject to. If you look back over the past 15 years, all bioterrorism (anthrax, smallpox, etc) was caused by accidents in labs like these, not ever by outsiders. Shame on BU for building this center in a densely populated area. I’m disgusted by the university’s actions.

    • anon on 03.05.2013 at 10:16 am

      Your comment doesn’t make any sense. This lab is on BU’s medical campus.

    • LarryO on 03.06.2013 at 10:00 am

      The lab was built on the eastern-most edge of Roxbury, on the BU Medical Campus property, about as far away as it could possibly be from residents while still being part of the Medical Center (where many of the researchers work).

      If the detractors actually took a tour of the facility, like I did when they were offered, you would see that this place has an insane amount of security, protocols, and layers of protection to ensure the safety of those working there, and of the area where it is located. Most of the research that would be done there involves dead viruses/bacteria, or those that are not spread through the air. For the very few truly dangerous, easily spread viruses, the protocols in place for the safe storage and handling of these things is more than enough to handle any contingency you could think of.

      No, I don’t work there, and I am not a researcher of any kind. I am just an average Joe who was curious about this place, and was VERY satisfied with just how safe and secure this facility really is.

  • KC on 03.05.2013 at 5:34 pm

    I am completely disgusted by BU for doing this. The lab is actually NOT meant as a public health initiative at all– it’s actually pretty explicitly a bio-defense lab, is funded as a line item of the department of defense, and is supposedly creating vaccines against potential biological weapons aka also creating biological weapons. The website for it makes it pretty clear that this is what the lab is REALLY for. (ps ebola is not a real public health threat, if they really cared about public health they would focus on things that are really killing people, etc)

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