Boston University lab awaiting NIH decision

Basic operations continue at a Boston University biolab as officials wait for a risk assessment decision from the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

The National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories cannot become fully operational until the NIH reports have been approved and the lab is certified. The decision is supposed to be issued before the end of 2012, according to

"We believe the process has been very thorough and it's very important so that community comments could be incorporated appropriately," Ellen Berlin, a BU spokesman for the NEIDL, said, reports. "It's been a very fair and thorough process."

The laboratory facilities were completed in 2009, but it has been mired in controversy for years. If the NIH returns a positive report, the NEIDL would be on track to study some of the world's most dangerous pathogens in a biosafety level 4 environment, including SARS, anthrax, Ebola and pneumonic plague.

"I don't want to put a time frame on it because it involves other agencies," Berlin said, according to "But it is moving along at an appropriate pace."

The Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act office is still required to certify the lab, in addition to reviewing the lab's environmental impact report. After these steps, the NEIDL's research must still be approved by the Boston Public Health Commission, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and BU's Institutional Biosafety Committee.

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