NIH Concludes that BU BioLab Poses Minimal Risk to Community

For Immediate Release January 2, 2013

Contact: Ellen Berlin, 617.520.7115,


Decision comes after thorough and comprehensive analysis

January 2, 2013 –Today, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) issued a Supplemental Record of Decision on Boston University’s National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories (NEIDL) affirming that the lab poses minimal risk to the surrounding community.

The issuance of the Supplemental Record of Decision, published in today’s Federal Register, (  follows a thorough and comprehensive analysis by distinguished scientists and researchers of the potential safety risks posed by the NEIDL and thorough consideration of the public comments on the draft and the final document.  The 2,717 page Final Supplementary Risk Assessment extensively reviewed and analyzed scenarios involving the potential of human health consequences of an exposure to laboratory workers and the general public as a result of unintentional or malevolent events.  It also addressed these same scenarios at potential alternative locations for the lab.

An independent panel of scientists from the National Research Council evaluated the scientific validity of the risk assessment when it was nearly complete. At that time, the independent panel’s chairman said, “The work they (the NIH) had done was sound scientific work, the scenarios they developed were credible and the analyses they presented were also sound and credible.”

“The NIH conducted an exhaustive review of the lab and its findings were affirmed by an independent panel of eminent scientists on the Blue Ribbon Panel. The NEIDL will be an important addition to life science research in our region and its work to improve public health will have local, national and global impact,” said John R. Murphy, PhD, NEIDL Director ad interim.

There are a number of necessary next steps to take in the process to open the lab for BSL-3 and BSL-4 research, including obtaining a certificate from the Massachusetts Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs and seeking approval from the Boston Public Health Commission.  BU will soon be filing the necessary documentation, including a Supplementary Final Environmental Impact Report with the Massachusetts Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

BU must also seek approval from the Boston Public Health Commission, the agency that regulates BSL- 3 and 4 research in the city. Finally, before any research can begin, projects must also be approved by the Institutional Biosafety Committee and, if Select Agents are being used, approval must be granted by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and/or US Department of Agriculture.

For more information on the NEIDL, go to

Founded in 1839, Boston University is an internationally recognized private research university with more than 30,000 students participating in undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs. BU consists of 17 colleges and schools along with a number of multi-disciplinary centers and institutes which are central to the school’s research and teaching mission.