Skip to main content
Skip to navigation

Regional Biocontainment Laboratory Dedicated on MU Campus

Researchers will study new treatments and vaccines to fight infectious agents

Nov. 15, 2008

Story Contact:  Christian Basi, 573-882-4430,

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- University of Missouri researchers will have an opportunity to play a critical part in the nation's effort against bio- and agro-terrorism with the completion of the new Regional Biocontainment Laboratory (RBL) on the MU campus. The RBL facility gives researchers the necessary tools to study emerging infectious diseases such as West Nile virus and tularemia, pathogens commonly found in Missouri.

The facility was created after MU scientists received a $13.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. One of 13 facilities in the country, the lab is designed to assist in national, state and local public-health efforts in the event of a bioterrorist or infectious disease emergency. MU researchers will help develop drugs, treatments and vaccines to combat microorganisms that pose a threat to public health. The facility will allow scientists to diagnose and detect emerging infectious pathogens that might be used in bioterrorism, as well as to provide training for graduate and postdoctoral students and laboratory animal medicine veterinarians.

"This state-of-the-art laboratory will enable MU scientists and students to remain at the forefront of pathogen study and will attract world-class researchers to our university," said George Stewart, professor and chair of the MU Department of Veterinary Pathology. "The facility was built to the highest standards to ensure the safety of those who work in or around the building."

Because research on emerging infectious diseases requires a very specialized facility, the strictly controlled RBL is designed with specialized ventilation and waste management systems to protect the researchers and to prevent microorganisms from being disseminated into the environment. The building has its own air supplies, filters, power supplies and decontamination systems. All critical systems are built with backup units. For example, all air that comes out of the building will be filtered through high-efficiency particle filters, making the air leaving the building cleaner than the air entering the building.

The RBL, located behind the MU Animal Sciences Research Center off of East Campus Drive, was dedicated at a ceremony featuring several speakers including Brady Deaton, MU chancellor; Samuel Stanley, Jr., director of the Midwest Research Center of Excellence for Research in Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases at Washington University in St. Louis; and Michael Kurilla, deputy director of the Office of Biodefense Research at the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease.