The upgrades to this 3,550 sf laboratory make it the only Biosafety Level 3 (BSL-3) lab at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, a significant advancement for the program. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) classifies laboratory facilities by the types of agents they work with and ranks labs on a scale of BSL-1 through BSL-4 based on the potential risks these agents pose to the community. BSL-3 labs, like this one work with highly infectious pathogens such as anthrax, West Nile Virus, SARS, or avian flu, for which there are available treatments.
The renovation included a massive HVAC overhaul, including the installation of a secure ducted ventilation system and HEPA filtered exhaust. Biosafety cabinets — enclosed, gas-tight workspaces — were also installed throughout the lab for work with harmful pathogens.