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NIH concludes that BU biolab poses minimal risk to community

News Notes

Banner Staff

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently concluded that Boston University’s National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories (NEIDL) poses minimal risk to the surrounding community.

The issuance of the Supplemental Record of Decision follows a thorough and comprehensive analysis by distinguished scientists and researchers of the potential safety risks posed by the NEIDL, according to a statement by NIH.

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.

“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 John R. Murphy, PhD, NEIDL Director ad interim. “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.”

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.