The Rocky Mountain Regional Biocontainment Laboratory (RBL) at Colorado State University has formally received "select agent" research approval from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Construction on the $30 million laboratory at Colorado State's Foothills Research Campus ended in October 2007. Last fall, a biosafety team began the process of adding the 38,000-square-foot building to the CDC Select Agent Program. The team is led by Dr. Robert Ellis, CSU's biosafety officer and a Professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology.
"Development of new vaccines, drugs and tests are critical to global health, particularly when infectious diseases are responsible for most deaths throughout the world," said Dr. Tony Frank, Provost and Senior Vice President at Colorado State. "This important CDC recognition means we can take successful collaborations with such organizations as the CDC, the Gates Foundation and others to the next level to solve some of these major health issues."
The CDC regulates the possession, use and transfer of select agents and toxins that have the potential to threaten public health and safety. The CDC Select Agent Program registers and rigorously inspects all U.S. laboratories and other entities that possess, use or transfer a select agent or toxin. With the CDC approval, researchers will begin research mid-May in the RBL at Biosafety Level - 3. The University already has select agent approval for some of its research, but CSU's new laboratory is the first of the 13 Regional Biocontainment Laboratories and two National Biocontainment Laboratories around the nation to receive select agent approval.
The College’s Infectious Disease Supercluster is among the world's leaders in researching West Nile virus, drug-resistant tuberculosis, yellow fever, dengue, hantavirus, plague, tularemia and other diseases. The new facility provides the Supercluster with improved and safer equipment to research ways to protect the United States from bioterrorism and emerging diseases such as avian influenza. Researchers will investigate and develop new treatments and vaccines to protect against these agents.