Issue Date: March 17, 2008
NIH Replies To Biodefense Lab Fears
NIH has taken steps in response to a November 2007 National Research Council report that criticized the institutes for insufficiently addressing the potential risks of a BSL-4-level biodefense lab under construction in the heart of the South End/Roxbury neighborhood of Boston. The lab, being built by Boston University with funding from the National Institute of Allergies & Infectious Diseases, is slated to study the deadliest of deadly organisms. NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni said that all studies to date "indicate that the risks posed by this lab are extremely low." Still, he acknowledged the community's continuing concerns and said NIH is addressing them by setting up two advisory committees. An internal coordinating committee will address the safety concerns of community activists. A blue ribbon panel of outside experts will "review current risk assessments and provide independent technical expertise and guidance," an NIH press release said. The biodefense lab is scheduled to be completed by April 30, 2009.
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