George Mason University opens biomedical research lab

George Mason University recently opened a $50 million biomedical research laboratory in an effort to take the lead in fighting infectious diseases and bioterrorism.

The laboratory, which encompasses 52,000 square feet, is one of 13 regional biocontainment facilities nationwide that was funded by grants from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. In addition to medical research, GMU officials see the laboratory as a means of economic growth for the region, according to

“Even before we opened, we started getting serious inquiries from companies that were interested in partnering with us,” Dr. Charles Bailey, executive director for GMU’s National Center for Biodefense and Infectious Diseases, told “We expect to draw companies that are focused on either diagnosis of diseases, therapeutic treatments of those diseases or vaccine development; that covers a pretty broad spectrum of the whole approach towards infectious diseases.”

The facility, which contains 20,000 square feet of laboratory space, including level-3 biosafety areas, is located in Manaassas, Virginia, next to GMU’s Prince William Campus. When fully operational, it will employ approximately 50 people, including 12 doctorate-level researchers.

The laboratory is capable of manufacturing aerosols of infectious diseases such as anthrax, plague and SARS for testing purposes.

“A lot of the pathogens that would be used by potential enemies of the U.S., like terrorists, are likely to be delivered via an aerosol route, which causes a totally different disease than when it’s transmitted in nature,” Bailey told “So we’ll be able to evaluate products in an aerosol environment. And up until this laboratory was built, we could not do that.”