Boston University's NEIDL receives state approval for controversial research

Boston University's National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories received approval on Friday from the Massachusetts state government to start researching biosafety level 3 and level 4 pathogens.

The lab filed a supplemental final environmental impact report in January. After reviewing the report, the state government found that the biolab poses a minimal threat to the surrounding community and that it properly and adequately complies with the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act, the Daily Free Press reports.

"The Massachusetts Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs (Richard Sullivan, Jr.) issued, under the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act, a certificate for the NEIDL ," Ellen Berlin, the university's spokeswoman for the NEIDL, said, according to the Daily Free Press . "This action is essentially the state's approval for BSL 3 and BSL 4 research to be conducted in the NEIDL."

The NEIDL will next request permission from the Boston Public Health Commission to transfer ongoing BSL 3 research from an existing laboratory on the campus to the NEIDL. The first BSL 3 pathogens to be studied at the lab will be tuberculosis-related bacteria.

"We are pleased that the MEPA process has had a positive finding," John Murphy, the interim director of the NEIDL, said, according to the Daily Free Press . "Our research will make important contributions toward improving public health and will have local, national and global impact."

For BSL 4 research, the lab will need to receive additional regulatory and judicial determinations. BSL 4 research includes dangerous pathogens such as the SARS virus, anthrax, Ebola virus, the 1918 H1N1 influenza and pneumonic plague, the Daily Free Press reports.