BSL-4 lab at Fort Detrick moving forward, report says
The Medical Countermeasure Test and Evaluation Facility was anticipated to open in 2018, but the $600 million animal testing laboratory was halted so that a study could be conducted to assess the future projected demand for the facility. The building was meant for the testing of infectious pathogens such as Marburg, anthrax and Ebola. Other in-progress facilities on the campus, including the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Disease's Integrated Research Facility, have not been affected by the hold on the other lab, Gazette.net reports.
The news of the hold on the countermeasure facility came after President Barack Obama signed a bill on December 31 that cut federal funding for biological and chemical defense research from $1.2 billion to $1.14 billion. The IRF is currently under construction and is waiting for certification by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"At this time, we cannot predict with certainty when the NIAID IRF will complete its commissioning, endurance testing and CDC certification processes," Clifford Lane, the direction of the Division of Clinical Research, said, according to Gazette.net. "Certification by the CDC entails demonstration of compliance with all engineering and operational requirements, plus appropriate training and background clearance for personnel with access to select agents."
Lane said that the IRF will be a fully operational level 4 biosecurity lab within the next two years. The NIAID is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
"As such, our facility's operations are not impacted by the proposed budget changes at the Department of Defense," Lane said, according to Gazette.net.