The Biological Safety Laboratory Level 3, or BSL-3, Containment Core is a negative-pressure biohazard containment core facility that consists of a 90-sq.-ft. anteroom and a 430-sq.-ft. laboratory with two work areas.
The Rush BSL-3 is recertified annually to meet current requirements from the Centers for Disease Control-National Institutes of Health. The facility is connected to Rush University Medical Center's emergency power source and is designed to maintain containment and security during emergency conditions. All exhaust is HEPA-filtered before being vented to the outside. Access to the BSL-3 facility is restricted by swipe-card access, which is granted only to approved, trained staff.
The facility was totally renovated in 2011 to conform to current specifications for Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories, or BMBL (2007), from the CDC-NIH, standards for handling Risk Group 3 agents and large-volume isolation of RG2 agents, as well as new or previously uncharacterized agents. These standards are all described in the current guidelines from the NIH Office of Biotechnology Activities that cover “Recombinant or Synthetic Nucleic Acid Molecules.”
In addition, our facility was updated in 2014 to handle Ebola-infected patient specimens for clinical laboratory testing, such as complete blood counts. The lab would also be useful for BSL 2+ experiments, such as the propagation of drug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis. In the event of a bioterrorism event, our facility would be invaluable as a support laboratory for Rush University Medical Center.
A Steris pass-through steam sterilizer between the anteroom and the main laboratory is equipped with the appropriate biosafety collar, one-way pass-through control and backup steam generator.
The main laboratory consists of two work areas, each with two biological safety cabinets, or BSCs, measuring 4 cu. ft. and 6 cu. ft. The BSCs are certified annually by an outside contractor. A dual-chambered 37°C CO2 incubator is provided. Additional shared equipment includes a 4°C refrigerator (24 cu. ft.), a -30C freezer (24 cu. ft.), a -80C freezer (20.4 cu. ft.), three high-capacity tabletop centrifuges (two refrigerated), three micro-centrifuges (two refrigerated), and two microscopes. The refrigerator, the two freezers, the incubators, and the room are all equipped with micro-sensors that continuously monitor temperature, and wirelessly transmit their data to a centralized computer as part of a Siemens Checkpoint System, which can alert specified people if there is a problem.
Room usage and training
- $100/half day — four hours or less
- $200/day — more than four hours. Costs apply even if personnel are not present. For example, if a culture incubates for five days, the cost would be $1,000, even if personnel are not in the BLS-3 every hour of that five days.
Past clients served / current collaborators
- The National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Virology Quality Assurance program, for amplification of HIV-1 by coculture
- Rush Clinical Retrovirology Research Laboratory for HIV-1 infected-patient specimen preparation
- RUMC Medical Laboratories setup for clinical testing on confirmed Ebola-infected patient samples
- RUMC Medical Laboratories setup, as a backup laboratory for the propagation of drug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis