An integral component of the Global Health and Emerging Pathogens Institute (GHEPI) that provides a unique infrastructure to study infectious disease threats is the Emerging Pathogens Facility (EPF). The EPF consists of 1,000 square feet of BSL-3 enhanced laboratories to safely conduct experiments using select agents and pathogenic agents, such as highly pathogenic avian and 1918 influenza viruses, SARS, and MERS.
This facility has all the features of a BSL-3 facility, with the following enhancements: double door entrance, double door autoclave, HEPA filtration of exhausting air, shower out room, liquid effluent sterilizer, and security measures (video-camera monitoring, restricted access to trained personnel and inventorying and cataloguing of pathogens consistent with select agent usage). This enhanced BSL-3 facility is regularly inspected by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and the United States Department of Agriculture to assure it complies with existing biocontainment and biosecurity regulations. It has four independent tissue culture suites and one animal room to conduct studies with small animal models, mice, guinea pigs, and ferrets.
Randy Albrecht, PhD, Research Associate Professor at GHEPI, is the EPF Director and Responsible Officer for the Select Agent Program. He is responsible for the operations of the facility and ensures that research conducted in the BSL-3+ EPF is in compliance with established guidelines and standard operating procedures, including a select agent specific training program that is required for access to the facility. In addition to the BSL-3+ EPF, GHEPI supervises non select agent BSL-3 and BSL-2+ space to conduct research with pathogens such as West Nile virus (BSL-3) and HIV (BSL-2+).
These facilities are essential for GHEPI research and have been instrumental in securing multiple research grants focused on emerging pathogens.