Regional Biocontainment Laboratory

The UTHSC Regional Biocontainment Laboratory (RBL) provides a venue for work on emerging infectious agents and agents that require biosafety level-3 (BSL-3) and/or animal biosafety level-3 (ABSL-3) containment. BSL-3 activities are applicable to clinical, diagnostic, teaching, research, or production facilities in which work is done with indigenous or exotic agents that may cause serious or potentially lethal disease as a result of exposure by inhalation route. Agents that pose a health risk by inhalation shall be only manipulated in the BSL-3 facility. All work in the RBL requires the investigator pay user fees for space and services. The facility can also be used for contract work from the private sector for investigations requiring BSL-2 or BSL-3 containment, high throughput robotic technologies, specialized imaging methodologies, or the use of recombinant inbred mice. The primary purpose of the research conducted at the RBL is to expand our fund of knowledge in broad areas of microbial pathogenesis and effectively translate this information in practical ways that will lead to new therapeutics, vaccines, and diagnostics to protect the general population from infectious diseases and bioterrorism.

The RBL has the appropriate engineering controls, equipment and facilities to conduct BSL-2, biosafety level-3 (BSL-3) and animal biosafety level-3 (ABSL-3) research. To effectively manage this highly specialized laboratory an executive group has been appointed by the RBL Director with expertise in BSL-3 and ABSL-3 policies and practices, use of appropriate research technologies, function of specialized engineering controls, development, implementation and management of an effective business plan and knowledge of emerging infections and select agent research. This group will be called the UTHSC RBL Executive Committee (UTREC) and will meet regularly to discuss all issues important for properly operating and utilizing the RBL. The purpose of the committee will be to discuss all aspects of activities pertinent to the RBL and advise the RBL Director and the UTHSC Responsible Official (RO) about action items, events and work flow issues, and other various matters that require attention from time to time.

Location

The RBL is a restricted UTHSC building. The building entrances and exits are equipped with CCTV cameras and proximity (prox) card readers. CCTV cameras are used throughout the facility to monitor and verify entrance and exit to rooms where select agents may be stored. Prox cards are also used throughout the facility to restrict access to user-approved areas.

Registration

Before work can be initiated in the RBL, Principal Investigators (PIs) are required to submit a UTHSC RBL Project Request Form to the Committee on Biocontainment and Restricted Entities (COBRE). Project requests must be reviewed and approved before gaining access or performing work in the RBL. All appropriate Select Agent registration, approval, and permits must be completed before a Select Agent can be transferred to UTHSC, or before an investigator can begin work in the RBL.

Training

All personnel, once approved by the Laboratory Director, will be trained by the RBL Facility Manager prior to gaining access to or performing work in the facility. A training checklist is provided. Refresher training is required for all users at least annually or whenever there are procedural or policy changes. Examinations are administered to document comprehension of the training materials.