What is BSL-3?
A principle function of all the National Primate Research Centers (NPRC) is to maintain a degree of readiness in order to provide the means to rapidly respond to a human infectious disease outbreak through scientific investigation. This biomedical research state of readiness requires not only that we maintain healthy colonies of nonhuman primates but also a research cadre active in the general area of infectious diseases, and a laboratory infrastructure to support these investigations.
Consequently, we must stand ready to pursue active programs to study disease agents, disease processes, and candidate infection-blocking and treatment strategies. Numerous common viral, bacterial and fungal infectious agents are included in these broad categories of agents that may be examined at our Center. Infectious disease research is explicitly regulated by several Federal, State and University agencies that have set -and monitor compliance with- biosafety regulations and guidelines governing these research activities. Regulations also categorize infectious agents by a risk-level rating system that considers disease severity, availability of controlling vaccines or treatments, ease and route of transmission for each agent. Some agents spread by aerosols and infect via the respiratory system. Many such agents are studied in laboratories designed specifically to contain aerosols.
These laboratories are called biosafety level 3 (BSL-3) containment laboratories. BSL-3 laboratories use unidirectional airflow and high efficiency particle air (HEPA) filtration to control aerosols and remove infectious organisms from the air within the laboratory (containment) should an aerosol be generated during routine laboratory work.
WaNPRC BSL-3 Facilities
The WaNPRC recently added a new BSL-3 to our to our laboratory inventory. The addition of this facility has doubled our previous BSL-3 laboratory capacity. The new laboratory was carefully designed to accommodate and safely support several investigators’ research interests simultaneously. Safety features focus on air handling and full a computer monitoring and central control system. Features include differential air pressure alarm/monitors at each door, welded (seamless) stainless steel duct work for both supply and HEPA-filtered exhaust air, 100% redundant supply and exhaust systems fans so that routine maintenance issues can be addressed while maintaining full operation and an emergency generator that can maintain full activity levels during power failures.
The laboratory is composed of two independent suites. The suites contain biosafety cabinets (BSC) that function as engineered work areas with filtered directional airflow and serve as the primary containment barriers where infectious agents can be safely manipulated in open containers. Each BSC is supported by two dedicated culture incubators and numerous common laboratory equipment items. One suite also contains a flow cytometer/cell sorter used to analyze and/or separate live infected cells for further culture analyses. Each suite is served by a series of rooms where investigators add an outer layer of personnel protective equipment/clothing (PPE) before entering the inner laboratory. This layer is systematically removed during the exiting process so that no outer clothing items worn in the laboratory leaves the facility before sterilization. Sterilization is achieved by steam autoclaving and each suite has a dedicated autoclave.
Access to BSl-3 laboratories is restricted and granted only to those with appropriate research credentials. Investigators seeking to use this facility must notify the Center of their intent and comply with standard Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) project pre-startup requirements. All approved projects will be further risk assessed by the Center and projects with compatible assessments may be co-housed within a single suite. PPE and basic disposable supplies will be furnished by the Center. Costs of these items along with a portion of the operational costs will be assessed to each investigator by a prorated schedule.
For more information, please contact the Center.