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Two Universities Awarded Grants for Anti-Bioterrorism Labs

October 01, 2003|From Associated Press

Boston University and the University of Texas won a national competition to build high-security laboratories to research deadly viruses as part of the Bush administration's campaign to broaden defenses against bioterrorism.

The National Biocontainment Laboratories will house hundreds of scientists researching vaccines and handling deadly agents such as anthrax, bubonic plague and smallpox. Each university will receive a $120-million federal grant for construction.

The facilities will join three other operational laboratories in the country that carry the highest safety designation of Level 4, which is for handling agents that cause deadly diseases that have no cures, according to the National Institutes of Health.

The other top labs are at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, the Army's Ft. Detrick in Maryland and the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research in San Antonio. Security measures there include armed guards, maze-like hallways to prevent quick escapes and mechanical hands to manipulate germs.

The NIH rejected proposals from UC Davis and several other universities to build containment labs.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) hailed the selections and said the NIH has made "a major down payment in the nation's battle against bioterrorism."

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