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NIH concludes BU biolab poses minimal risk

The National Institutes of Health announced the Boston University National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories  pose a minimal risk to the community, according to a press release Wednesday.

“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,” said Interim NEIDL Director John Murphy in the release. “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.”

NIH’s 2,717-page report examined potential safety risks the lab might pose and took public comments and concerns into consideration, according to the release.

Approval from the NIH marks the end of the first step toward gaining clearance to perform research on Level 3 and Level 4 pathogens.

If approved, the biolab will conduct research on diseases such as SARS, anthrax, Ebola, pneuomic plague and the 1918 H1N1 influenza.

Before the biolab can begin research on these pathogens, BU must file for documentation to obtain a certificate from the Massachusetts Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs and gain approval from both the Boston Public Health Commission and the Institutional Biosafety Committee, according to the release.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Department of Agriculture must also approve research on “select agents,” the release stated.

The biolab was completed in 2009, but negative community feedback over perceived risks to the community prevented it from beginning research on dangerous and infectious pathogens.

Biolab officials sought transparency by updating the biolab website with increased research information in July.

Researchers began working with Level 2 pathogens at the biolab in April.

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